Cram school teacher admits slaying; counsel wants him examined

KYOTO (Kyodo) A man who taught part time at a cram school pleaded guilty Monday to fatally stabbing a 12-year-old girl at the school in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, in December, and his counsel is seeking a psychiatric exam for their “delusional” client.

“I committed an irreparable mistake, and I would not have done this if I had committed suicide (first),” Yu Hagino, 23, told the Kyoto District Court. “I am sorry that I claimed a precious life.”

Hagino is accused of murdering elementary school sixth-grader Sayano Horimoto in a classroom at the cram school on the morning of Dec. 10.

Prosecutors said in their opening statement Hagino had come to distrust and hate the girl because he received complaints from her parents over his teaching methods.

His lawyers said at a news conference after the hearing they will ask the court to order a psychiatric examination, saying he was suffering from delusions at the time of the killing.

Hagino’s attorneys told the court he thought about killing himself after the girl told him he was strange. They said he eventually came to believe he needed to kill her because he was suffering from a delusion that she had attacked him with a sword.

The prosecutors said Hagino is criminally responsible because he led a normal life and because the crime was premeditated.

Following the trial session, the father of the victim, Tsunehide Horimoto, expressed anger at Hagino at a news conference. It was his first public appearance following his daughter’s slaying.

Horimoto said he was aware that Hagino was a problem long before the murder.

His daughter was often “scared” because of the way Hagino taught his subjects, starting soon after she enrolled in the cram school last March, Horimoto said.

“At the hospital (where Sayano was pronounced dead), I asked my wife, ‘Did Hagino do this?’

“I am still haunted by this feeling — wasn’t there any way to save her life?” Horimoto said. “I often wake up in the middle of the night after having a dream in which I am stabbed instead of my daughter.”

Asked why he decided to appear before the public, Horimoto said he was irritated at the way the media reported the murder, saying they only reported Hagino’s comments as quoted by investigators.

“I am here to help the public understand the reality of this murder case by telling the unspoken words of my daughter,” Horimoto said.

Commenting on other recent crimes involving schoolchildren, Horimoto said: “Every time I hear a news report (on such cases), my heart hurts a lot.

“Right now I’m speaking in a calm way, but to tell the truth, I cannot express in words what I feel.”