The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday sentenced a man to 22 years in prison for killing his teenage ex-girlfriend in 2013, a term unchanged from its initial ruling, in the retrial of a high-profile stalking-murder case in Mitaka, western Tokyo.
The trial of Charles Thomas Ikenaga, 23, followed an unusual course because the indictment in the first trial had failed to mention that he also engaged in “revenge porn” — the posting explicit sexual images — of the victim before and after the killing of the girl, who had ended their relationship.
In handing down the ruling, Noriaki Kikuchi, the presiding judge at the court’s Tachikawa branch, concluded that the case was “extremely malicious” in that it “took away the life of the victim and (her) dignity.”
Ikenaga, indicted on murder and other charges, was initially sentenced to 22 years in prison by the branch in 2014. But the Tokyo High Court repealed the ruling the following year and ordered the lower court to retry the case, saying the district court was “overly” influenced by the act of revenge porn, which had not been included in the indictment.
Following the high court decision to send the case back to the lower court, the prosecutors took the rare move of further indicting Ikenaga in August 2015 for violating a law on child prostitution and pornography.
They had initially refrained from doing so at the behest of the bereaved family, but it later gave prosecutors the go-ahead.
Defense lawyers insisted that it was “illegal” for the prosecutors to bring an additional charge against Ikenaga. But the court dismissed that argument Tuesday, saying it is “natural for prosecutors to take heed of” the desire of the victim’s family in compiling an indictment.
In the ruling, Kikuchi noted the “images have been viewed by a considerable number of people and cannot be erased.”
“There were selfish and unjust motives (behind the crime), with the defendant totally hoping to tarnish the victim’s reputation,” he added.
Prosecutors had sought life imprisonment at the first district court trial, but could not seek the same sentence in the retrial because they did not appeal the initial 22-year sentence.
Taking into account the additional charge over the revenge porn, they had demanded 25 years in prison.
According to the ruling, Ikenaga stabbed his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend to death with a knife on Oct. 8, 2013, at her home in Mitaka. He also posted on the Internet on Oct. 6 and 8 that year a link to a pornographic website to which he had uploaded images of the victim.
After the ruling, a lawyer for the defendant continued to assert that the additional indictment was “questionable” in light of appropriate criminal proceedings, and said he would discuss a possible appeal with the defendant.
The girl’s family also called on prosecutors to appeal the ruling, saying the revenge porn act had not been “properly punished” since the sentence remained unchanged.