A judge has said he “sympathised” with the father he found guilty of murdering his 16-year-old daughter’s unemployed boyfriend, handing him an exceptionally light 8 year sentence after the prosecution asked for 12.
The case began with a 38-year-old unemployed Kumamoto prefecture man dating a 16-year-old girl he met on a “deai-kei” BBS.
The father of the girl found out about this, and had the man to meet him at his home. An argument ensued, and the father took a kitchen knife he happened to have to hand and stabbed his daughter’s boyfriend three times in the gut, killing him.
The father soon faced murder charges, which he denied, saying “in the end he may have died, but I had no intention of killing him.”
The prosecution argued the murder was a clear and unjustifiable act of homicide, saying “this was a vicious crime in which the accused took a deadly kitchen knife and very deliberately and repeatedly stabbed a man in the abdomen with clear intent to kill,” and asked for a 12 year sentence.
Meanwhile the defence apparently took the position that the victim was at fault for being the path of the blade in what was an “act of excessive self-defence”: “There was a scuffle and in the heat of self-defence he happened to thrust out the knife.”
This version of events is backed up by the exceedingly light sentence they requested – 3 years in prison and a 5 year suspended sentence.
The judge conceded that the father deliberately murdered his daughter’s boyfriend, but expressed sympathy for the killer and ordered a reduced sentence:
“I can understand your parental desire to stop this relationship. There is much about which we can sympathise in this case, and a sentence of over 10 years is certainly excessive.”
In the end the defendant was ordered to serve 8 years for the murder.
The defence still plans to take the verdict to a court of appeal.
The case is the first of its kind in Kumamoto to use the lay judge system (a quasi-jury); one of the lay judges in fact comments that “I have a daughter the same age, so there is certainly some overlap,” fuelling the suspicion of some that the case was judged by the equivalent of a panel of over-protective fathers.
Leaving aside the issue of what many have condemned as a light sentence for a crime which can never be justified, some have pondered what it says about the father that he raised his daughter to date such a man and then decided to kill him.
Still others have wondered whether the murderer might have gotten off completely had it been the mother at fault.