Man acquitted of schoolgirl murder

Kyodo

The Osaka High Court on Wednesday acquitted a 64-year-old man in the May 2008 murder of a high school girl in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, overturning a lower court conviction.

The Kyoto District Court in May 2011 sentenced Katsumi Naka to life for murdering Miho Kosugi, 15, while attempting to molest her. He was convicted partly on the basis of facts that only the murderer could have known.

In Wednesday’s decision, however, presiding Judge Masayuki Kawaai said there were no facts presented that would have been known only to the culprit.

The judge acknowledged the testimony of one of the two eyewitnesses that indicated the defendant was with the victim before she was killed. But he said the testimony of another eyewitness was not reliable, noting descriptions of the victim’s clothes and appearance were initially vague.

Regarding the defendant’s deposition about the victim’s makeup pouch and underwear — the basis of the lower court’s conviction — the high court pointed out the defendant could have guessed or been coached to offer the details during the course of a police grilling.