Accused William Schneider, 51, was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Japanese student Natsumi Kogawa on Friday.
Kogawa’s mother travelled from Japan and braved weeks of graphic testimony, seeking justice for her child. She was in tears in the front row of the courtroom when the verdict was read.
A three-week trial began last month and deliberations started Tuesday just before noon. More than 30 witnesses were called and disturbing evidence was shown, including autopsy photos.
Through a translator, Emily Kogawa, Natsumi’s mother, thanked the jury.
“…..And they applied all the common sense and reached the verdict of second degree murder, so I am very grateful to all the support and support and generosity by people,” she said.
Kogawa, 30, was found stuffed in a suitcase and dumped in the hedges on a Vancouver property in the West End in September 2016. Court heard Kogawa, 112 pounds, was naked with her arms and legs folded in a fetal position.
Kogawa, who was on a student visa, came to Canada in May 2016. Autopsy results revealed traces of anti-anxiety medication in her system.
Globalnews.ca coverage of the Natsumi Kogawa murder case:
The Crown contends that Schneider intentionally killed Kogawa when he smothered her with his hands.
In a stunning admission at the tail end of his trial, Schneider pleaded guilty to interfering with human remains.
Defence lawyer Joe Doyle, said yes, Schneider admitted to putting Kogawa’s body in a suitcase but he didn’t kill her.
He said he panicked, he made poor decisions, suggesting he was a homeless man with a drug addiction. A pathologist, Dr. Carol Lee, could not determine a cause of death. She said there was no bruises, injuries or DNA evidence linking Schneider to Kogawa’s death.