Mom, son’s death sentences upheld

Kyodo News

The Fukuoka High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court decision sentencing a 48-year-old woman and her second son to death over the murder of four people in conspiracy with her husband and elder son.

Mami Kitamura and her 23-year-old son, Takahiro, had admitted to the facts in the indictment but claimed they were in subordinate positions and the penalty should be reduced.

The Fukuoka District Court’s Kurume branch gave death sentences to the two in October 2006, determining that Kitamura played a central role in the murders and Takahiro actually carried out all four killings.

Her 63-year-old husband, Jitsuo, a former senior gangster, and their 27-year-old son, Takashi, were sentenced to death in a separate ruling in February but are appealing the sentences. The high court is scheduled to hand down its decision in March 2008.

According to the lower court rulings, the four conspired to murder an acquaintance, Sayoko Takami, 58, by having her eat a lunch laced with soporific drugs on Sept. 18, 2004, in Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture, with the intention of stealing money from her.

The district court also ruled that the four killed Takami’s 18-year-old son, Tatsuyuki, and his 17-year-old friend, Junichi Hara, to silence them about the killing, and abandoned the bodies of the three in a vehicle in a river.