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Stalker in Mitaka murder case sentenced to 22 years

Kyodo

The Tokyo District Court on Friday sentenced a 22-year-old man to 22 years in prison for fatally stabbing his teenage ex-girlfriend last October in a high-profile stalking case that sparked allegations of incompetence in the Mitaka Police Department.

Charles Thomas Ikenaga pleaded guilty to murdering high school student Saaya Suzuki, 18, on Oct. 8 after she rejected his pleas to resume their relationship, prosecutors said.

On Tuesday, prosecutors had demanded a life sentence for Ikenaga, saying in their closing arguments at the court’s Tachikawa branch that the manner in which the young woman died, after being pursued and repeatedly stabbed, was “extremely cruel.”

The defense team sought 15 years in prison, arguing that Ikenaga had been raised in a “harsh environment” and had been neglected by his mother, which prompted him in part to commit the crime.

Ikenaga’s lawyers are thinking of appealing the ruling.

Presiding Judge Masahiko Hayashi said Ikenaga was angry and held a grudge because he “felt pain and thought his existence was completely denied” when the budding actress refused to resume their relationship.

But “the selfish motive leaves little room for sympathy,” the judge said.

It was a persistent and cruel act to stab her in vital parts of the body when she was trying to flee, the judge said. It was also “extremely cowardly” for him to post images of the victim on the Internet before and after the killing, although his family background “affected to a degree” his actions and led to the murder, the judge said.

The court reached the ruling in a lay judge trial.

Ikenaga planned the murder and had been looking for a chance to kill Suzuki for more than a week. This prompted the girl and her family to make several pleas for help to the Mitaka police, which tried calling him but didn’t make any other efforts to track him down to issue the required stalking warnings.

Ikenaga finally ambushed the victim in her home on Oct. 8, 2013, after sneaking in and waiting in a closet. Suzuki fled into the street but was caught and stabbed multiple times in the throat, abdomen and elsewhere with a 13-cm knife at around 4:55 p.m. She bled to death.

Ironically, the officers at the Mitaka Police Station, where Suzuki reported being stalked, had phoned her at around 4:30 p.m. the day she died to confirm that she was at home.