MIYAZAKI – A 22-year-old man was sentenced to hang Tuesday for killing his wife, baby and mother-in-law in the city of Miyazaki earlier this year, the third death sentence handed down in a lay judge trial.
Presiding Judge Masayoshi Takahara of the Miyazaki District Court said Akihiro Okumoto “took the lives of the three because of his selfish desire to live self-indulgently and alone after being reprimanded by his mother-in-law.”
The crimes were “coldblooded, atrocious” and the consequences “too grave,” Takahara said in ruling out leniency.
Okumoto admitted killing his wife, Kumiko, 24, their 5-month-old son, Yuto, and his wife’s mother, Takako Ikegami, 50, so the focus of the trial centered on the punishment handed down by the panel of six civilian and three professional judges.
Prosecutors had sought capital punishment, saying the crime was “one of the most heinous cases involving members of the same family,” while the defense sought leniency by arguing Okumoto regrets what he did and can be rehabilitated.
Okumoto strangled the baby at around 5 a.m. on March 1, used a knife to kill his wife and a hammer to slay her mother, and then buried the boy in a nearby yard, the court said.