Cameras were not allowed into the courtroom. 29-year-old Brian Dickson is charged in the first degree murder of 23-year-old York University student Liu Quian of Beijing.
Quian was chatting with her boyfriend over a webcam last Friday when a man knocked on her door. The boyfriend said he watched as a struggle broke out, then the webcam shut down.
"The man tried to hold Liu Qian, she was resisting and saying 'no no please don't,'" said boyfriend Meng Xianchao. "At that time my mind went blank. I was cursing him from my webcam."
Xianchao called other friends in Toronto who in turn called police, but it was too late. Liu's body was found in her apartment a few hours later, police said.
She was naked from the waist down and there were no obvious signs of sexual assault or trauma severe enough to kill her. The autopsy was inconclusive.
Police said the online chat was on a live streaming camera and was not recorded, though investigators were trying to figure out if there was any way they could recover it.
Dickson did not enter a plea in court. Police were not releasing any details about the crime nor its motive.
The Associated Press contributed to this story