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Mother of murdered student wants killer to get max sentence

Last Updated Oct 19, 2018 at 9:28 pm PDT

William Schneider seen walking alongside Japanese student Natsumi Kogawa. (Courtesy: Burnaby RCMP)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The mother of a Japanese student found dead in Vancouver two years ago wants the man found guilty of killing her to spend as much time as possible in prison.

A jury has found William Schneider guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Japanese student Natsumi Kogawa. Her mother has been crying as she spoke about how relieved she is the jury found him guilty of second degree murder instead of manslaughter.

Speaking with translation support from a family friend, Emiko Kogawa said she plans to be in Vancouver for William Schneider’s sentence hearing at the start of next month, saying November 1st happens to be her birthday.

“We like him to spend as long prison time as possible, accepting the degree of crime or tragedy that he caused to our family,” she said. “We wish he will not be eligible for parole by receiving maximum sentences.”

She also says her 30-year-old daughter deserved to live a long life and has this message for her.

“People listened, people understood you. It wasn’t your fault, so watch us from Heaven and we’ll continue our lives,” she said.

The 51-year-old Schneider denies he killed Natsumi, but he admits he put her body in a suitcase found on the grounds of Vancouver’s Gabriola mansion in September of 2016.

In September, 2016, Kogawa’s body was found stuffed in a suitcase outside Gabriola Mansion in Vancouver’s West End. She had been missing for three weeks before her body was found.

Kogawa, 30, was on a student visa and had come to Canada only a few months before she was killed.

“The judge was sincere in her comments about the difficulty in judging one’s fellow man. But I thought it was a just verdict and the right result,” said Crown prosecutor Geordie Proulx.

He says this was a difficult case for Kogawa’s family, witnesses, and the jury.

“We had the death of a young woman, not associated in any way with any criminal lifestyle. She’s found dead in a suitcase… If that’s not enough to make it difficult, I don’t know what is.”

“There is no such thing as an easy murder trial. It’s as simple as that,” he added.

Earlier this week, Schneider pleaded guilty to a separate charge of interfering with human remains.

Manslaughter charge could have been pursued

Proloux admitted he was already thinking about what sentence the Crown will seek, but didn’t share any details. “I’ve given it some thought, but I’m not going to tell anyone.”

But he never considered the jury would acquit Schneider.

“Well, I’ve done a few of these and I wasn’t surprised with the verdict. I believed it would be the verdict all along,” he said. “The jury heard all the evidence and made the right decision.”

Because there’s no DNA evidence linking Schneider to Kogawa, the jury could have found him guilty of manslaughter, but Proulx says that was never an option for him.

“There is no such thing as an easy murder trial. We had the death of a young woman –not associated in any way with any criminal lifestyle and she’s found dead in a suitcase on the grounds of a mansion,” he said.

A second degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life, but the judge has the power to determine when Schneider may be able to apply for parole.