Prosecutors seek 10-15 years for ringleader in Kawasaki teen murder


Prosecutors sought on Thursday a sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison for the eldest of three teenagers charged in the slaying of a 13-year-old boy at a riverbank in Kawasaki last year.

The case “is particularly heinous among other numerous juvenile delinquencies,” a prosecutor said during the trial at the Yokohama District Court, adding that the 19-year-old male “should bear the heaviest responsibility (of the three) as a ringleader” in the killing of Ryota Uemura.

A ruling will be handed down next Wednesday, the court said.

The 19-year-old, whose name is being withheld as he is minor under Japanese law, pleaded guilty to the assault and murder charges on the first day of his trial Tuesday.

The other defendants — two 18-year-old boys — were arrested over their involvement in the case, but have been indicted on the lesser charge of causing injury resulting in death.

According to the prosecution’s closing arguments, the alleged ringleader killed Uemura on Feb. 20 last year by cutting his throat repeatedly on the banks of the Tama River in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. He had earlier inflicted injuries on Uemura by hitting him in the face on Jan. 17 last year in neighboring Yokohama, they said.

One of the prosecutors explained the cause of the killing as “unjustified resentment.” The defendant injured Uemura as he thought Uemura was impudent. Then he got angry and went so far as to kill Uemura when the 13-year-old told his friends about the first assault.

“Seniors ganged up on the nonresistant 13-year-old boy and cut his throat. There’s no room for leniency,” the prosecutor added.

The 19-year-old’s lawyer, meanwhile, argued that he “had no strong intention to kill. The two others also played a big role.”

On Thursday, Uemura’s father told the court: “I’ll maintain a grudge and hate against the culprits who claimed (my son’s) life and will never forgive them as long as I live.”

The father took part in the trial as a family member of a crime victim under a system launched in 2008. Such trial participants sit next to prosecutors and are allowed to question the defendants and give their opinions on the penalty sought by prosecutors.

“I’m almost driven mad if I think how much fear, pain and coldness he must have felt. I want to make the culprits experience the same horror and plight,” the father said before the three professional and six citizen judges.

Prior to Uemura’s father, the 19-year-old male’s father also appeared in the court, saying, “I should have given a helping hand (to my son). I would like to meet the bereaved family to make my apology.”

The 19-year-old in his final statement said, “I am very sorry.”