• Kyodo


The Yamagata District Court sentenced a 26-year-old woman to 11 years in prison Monday for subjecting her 5-year-old son to a fatal level of abuse and for burying his body in a mountainous area in Murakami, Yamagata Prefecture.

Prosecutors had demanded a 13-year prison term for Yumi Kato, whose son suffered from congenital kidney failure.

According to the ruling, Kato conspired with her boyfriend, 30-year-old Naoki Itagaki, and began abusing the child around May 2003 at the couple’s apartment in Murakami. They did not give him enough food and punched and kicked him.

The boy died from traumatic shock sometime around June 17. The pair placed the body in a sports bag, drove to a hilly part of the city and buried it June 19, according to the ruling.

Itagaki, who is believed to have led the abuse, is standing trial separately.

In handing down Monday’s ruling, presiding Judge Tetsunobu Kinoshita noted that, prior to the boy’s death, the defendant had massaged his body because it was turning cold.

The judge rejected prosecutors’ claims that there was definite intent to murder him, ruling instead that the case was one of murder through willful negligence.

“There can be no room for leniency, as the crime is a coldblooded one in which (the defendant) abandoned all love and responsibility as a mother,” the judge said.