Man to hang for sisters’ murders

Defendant, 23, obsessed with killing people, judge says

Kyodo

The Osaka District Court sentenced a 23-year-old man to death Wednesday for murdering two sisters in their apartment in the city.

Yukio Yamaji stabbed Asuka Uehara, 27, and her 19-year-old sister, Chihiro, to death, stole 5,000 yen and torched the apartment Nov. 17, 2005, the court found.

The women suffered deep stab wounds to their chests and faces.

“It was a cruel and outrageous crime,” presiding Judge Masao Namiki said. “The defendant has not reflected on his crime, and it is unlikely that he will be rehabilitated. His criminal responsibility is too heavy.”

“The defendant is dangerous, as he is obsessed with killing people,” Namiki said. “The victims were killed in unimaginable fear and pain, and it is inevitable to hand down capital punishment.”

Yamaji was released from a reformatory in October 2003 after killing his mother, 50, in the city of Yamaguchi in July 2000 with a baseball bat. He was 16.

After killing the two Osaka sisters, Yamaji allegedly told police investigators, “I could not forget the feeling when I killed my mother, and wanted to see human blood.”

The court accepted expert evidence that determined he was mentally competent.

His lawyers, who submitted a guilty plea for the man, had sought a life sentence, arguing he should spend the rest of his life atoning for his crime.

Yamaji’s family life up to the point of killing his mother was “exactly like hell,” he told investigators.

After his father died when Yamaji was 11 years old, he and his mother were forced to live in heavy debt, and it was often hard to buy decent food, according to the investigators.

The Yamaguchi Family Court had sent him to a reform center for minors after concluding the attack on his mother was not deliberately planned. It determined that though he lacked a deep sense of guilt, correction was possible.

The father of the two sisters, Kazuo Uehara, held a news conference after Wednesday’s sentencing.

“Executing him will never bring them back,” he said, but he feels Yamaji deserves to be put to death.

“In that sense, the ruling makes me feel justice still exists Japan,” he said.