A youth who killed a housewife and her baby daughter and then proceeded to rape the woman’s corpse, in what he claimed was a ceremony intended to bring her back to life, has finally been sentenced to death after 12 years of trials and appeals.
The incident, dubbed the “Hikari city mother and child murder incident,” occurred in 1999 when the man, then an 18-year-old youth, entered the Yamaguchi prefecture home of a 23-year-old housewife, who he attempted to rape.
So intense was her resistance that he instead ended up strangling her to death with his bare hands whilst they struggled on the floor, and he then proceeded to fulfil his original intent by raping her corpse instead.
All the while the woman’s 11-month-old daughter was crying nearby, so after he had finished with her mother he dashed her on the floor and throttled her to death with a cord as well.
He then stowed the woman’s corpse in a closet, placed her daughter’s remains in the cupboard above, stole her purse and fled the scene.
After the incident he used her valuables up in trips to arcades and whilst relaxing with friends, until his arrest 4 days after the murder.
In his initial trial he protested his partial innocence, saying he “only wanted to hug her tenderly” and had no intention of raping her, that he was only trying to stop her baby crying when he accidentally throttled her in the process, and that he put her daughter’s corpse in the cupboard “because I thought Doraemon would help her.”
As if these excuses were not bizarre enough, he went on to claim that the only reason he had sex with her corpse was because he was trying to resurrect her using a ceremony he had read about in the 1964 novel “Makai Tenshou.”
His defence was hampered by the fact that he only came out with these excuses later in the trial, saying that he was afraid people would make fun of him and that the police had ridiculed him when he first told them.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty, generally only used in Japan for multiple murders of exceptional brutality.
Unsurprisingly, the judges chose not to believe his version of events and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
After the sentencing his bizarre behaviour continued, including him asking a judge in a letter whether the fact he “did” a “cute dog” one day was a sin. In a series of interviews given to the press he begged for clemency, saying he was “afraid” of dying.
Courts had let him off with a life sentence as he was a minor (in Japan legal adulthood starts at 20, but death penalties are possible for those aged over 18), but in 2006 a judge decided to toss out the original sentence on the grounds that youth was not acceptable grounds on which to spare his life, and sentenced him to death instead.
He appealed the sentence, but successive courts were so impressed by the hideous nature of his crimes and unconvinced by arguments that he could be rehabilitated that they opted to uphold the death sentence, culminating in the rejection of his final appeal on the 20th of February, 2012.
As it took 12 years to confirm his death sentence and may well take decades for him to actually be hanged, there is however still a modest chance that he will die from natural causes prior to the sentence actually being carried out.