NAGASAKI – The Nagasaki District Court on Friday sentenced a 28-year-old man to death for the 2011 murders of two relatives of a woman he had been stalking, in a lay judge trial.
The three professional and six citizen judges imposed the death penalty on Gota Tsutsui, a resident of Kuwana, Mie Prefecture, after finding him guilty of fatally stabbing the woman’s mother, Mitsuko Yamashita, 56, and grandmother, Hisae Yamashita, 77, at their home in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Dec. 16, 2011. The woman’s name was not disclosed.
The defendant “claimed the lives of two people who had never been held responsible for any mistake,” presiding Judge Akira Shigetomi said.
“He attempted to kill all those at the woman’s home to get to her, and was preoccupied with his desire to possess and control the woman and too egoistic to think about anyone else,” the judge said.
Noting that Tsutsui made repeated irrational explanations defaming and distressing the victims’ relatives during the trial, the judge concluded that “we have no choice but to impose the death penalty.”
Makoto Yamashita, the widower of Mitsuko Yamashita, said it was “natural” that the court handed down the ultimate penalty.
Prosecutors had sought death for Tsutsui, who reversed his earlier confession to killing the two women and pleaded not guilty in the trial.
His defense lawyers immediately filed an appeal with the Fukuoka High Court.
Tsutsui was also charged with injuring the woman he was stalking and with sending intimidating emails to eight people, including her relatives.
The case highlighted the failures of the Chiba, Mie and Nagasaki prefectural police to respond appropriately when they were contacted by the woman’s family about Tsutsui’s stalking.
Investigators at the Narashino police station in Chiba Prefecture delayed the processing of the stalking complaint because they wanted to take a pleasure trip before opening an investigation.
The police have admitted the women’s murders could have been prevented if they had responded “with utmost efforts.”