An Oahu man who admitted to killing his wife in California learned his fate Thursday.
Anthony Simoneau, 46, was sentenced to 11 years in prison at the El Cajon Courthouse in San Diego.
The judge had harsh words for Simoneau: “You killed somebody and you should be ashamed of that, and I watched you during this little bit of time while the prosecutor’s reading the victim impact statements and you didn’t take it very seriously and that’s a shame.”
Simoneau had faced a murder charge that could have brought him 25 years to life, but pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter last month.
His plea came after years of denials and questions surrounding the death of his wife, Japanese national Fumiko Ogawa. She and Simoneau shared a home together in Point Loma, Calif.
Simoneau filed for divorce in 2002, but withdrew the court papers when his wife got an inheritance from relatives in Japan, according to published reports. Her family lost contact with her in early January 2007, and he left San Diego later that year. She was last seen near the home she shared with Simoneau on or about January 4, 2007.
Even though her family filed a missing person’s report, Simoneau never reported his wife missing and told neighbors she moved to Hawaii.
Ogawa’s remains were discovered in the Anza Borrego Desert on Jan. 20, 2007, but went unidentified until a DNA match was made in 2011. The San Diego Police Department then launched a murder investigation.
At that time, her mother, Chieko Ogawa said, “It feels very short, yet a very long time. Now that our daughter’s body is finally found, I am truly relieved. At the same time, I am very eager to get my daughter.”
All along, Simoneau maintained his innocence. “There’s two sides to every story and let me look in the camera and I will tell you I did not kill my wife Fumiko,” Simoneau told KHON2 back in October 2011.
In September 2014, Simoneau, who was living on Oahu, was arrested for Ogawa’s murder. KHON2 was there when he was brought into HPD’s main cell block, awaiting extradition to California.
Still, Simoneau denied any involvement in Ogawa’s death.
“So you understand that the State of California has charged you with the crime of murder?” a Honolulu judge asked Simoneau then.
“Yes, and I look forward to going back to vindicating myself,” said Simoneau. “I just look forward to having my day in court, as the law says, innocent until proven guilty, so I look forward to my day in court in San Diego and proving these charges erroneous.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that prosecutors believed they had evidence to support the charge of murder, but accepted the plea offer from the defense to allow the victim’s family some closure. The plea will help to hasten the release of Ogawa’s remains from the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office to her family. That, prosecutors said, was particularly important to them.
As for Ogawa, a cause of death was never determined. Her remains will be flown back to Japan, where her family will hold a proper burial.
After the deal went public, Chieko Ogawa told NTV in Japan, “The sentence is so light. He got let off easy. We waited eight years and this is all we get. It’s unfair.”