Japanese court sentences Tottori woman to hang for killing two men who loaned her money

Kyodo

The Tottori District Court sentenced a 38-year-old bar worker to death Tuesday for killing two men in 2009, finding she was motivated by a desire to avoid repaying debts she owed the victims.

Miyuki Ueta denied involvement in the deaths of trucker Kazumi Yabe, 47, and electronics store owner Hideki Maruyama, 57, and her counsel filed an appeal.

In the lay judge trial presided over by Takushi Noguchi, Ueta was found guilty of drowning Yabe in the sea in April 2009 and Maruyama in a river in October the same year, both in Tottori Prefecture, by drugging them first with sleeping pills.

Ueta, who was also charged with 16 other crimes, including fraud and theft, owed Yabe ¥2.7 million and Maruyama around ¥1.23 million, for the purchase of electrical appliances, according to the court.

Judge Noguchi said “capital punishment is unavoidable” for the perpetrator of such heinous crimes.

He said only Ueta could have been with the two victims at the time of the crimes and had the opportunity to kill them.

In the absence of direct evidence, including a confession, prosecutors used the testimony of Ueta’s 49-year-old male roommate to convict her in the trial handled by three professional and six citizen judges.

The prosecutors had sought the death penalty, while Ueta’s counsel had called for acquittal on the robbery-murder charges.

Her counsel had argued that the roommate, a former company employee who was not identified, was the actual killer of the two men.