• Kyodo


A 43-year-old nurse suspected of attempting to kill her daughter to claim life insurance money has been judged by psychiatrists to be mentally competent to stand trial.

The Nara District Public Prosecutors’ Office, having received on Friday a psychiatric report on the suspect, Yukiko Sakanaka, is now expected to indict her for attempted murder before Oct. 6, when the term of her detention expires.

On Saturday, Sakanaka left the Nara Juvenile Prison, where she has been held for psychiatric appraisal, and was moved to the Tenri police station in Tenri.

Sakanaka was arrested July 16 by Nara Prefectural Police on suspicion of trying to kill her 16-year-old daughter by poisoning her.

Sakanaka allegedly visited her daughter at the Tenri City Hospital on May 10 and May 16 and gave her tea laced with salbutamol sulfate — a drug, used to treat asthma, that expands the bronchial air passages — in an attempt to kill her.

Sakanaka reportedly told police investigators she attempted to kill her daughter to get insurance money from a 30 million yen life insurance policy on her daughter.

Police sources said she also said she was going to kill herself after murdering her daughter.

On July 29, the Nara prosecutors office got permission from the Nara District Court to carry out a psychiatric examination of Sakanaka, based on her conflicting statements and investigations showing she had a history of mental illness.

The suspect had received regular medical treatment for mental illness at hospitals in Nara, Mie and Yamanashi prefectures after her son and another daughter died on separate occasions in 1997 and she began to exhibit psychogenic disorders.

Investigators are now looking into the possibility that she could be linked to their deaths, as well as to the recent hospitalization of her parents, with whom she lived.

Sakanaka’s 9-year-old daughter died of an acute accumulation of fluid in the lungs in March 1997, and her son, 15, of an accumulation of fluid in the lungs and the brain in November the same year.

The woman slashed her wrists in June 1998 in an attempt to kill herself, and she took a leave of absence from work until September 1999. While she was in Yamanashi receiving medical treatment, she attempted to kill herself several times over a period of about 10 months, according to investigators.

Sakanaka received 200,000 yen in life insurance following the death of her daughter, and 20 million yen following the death of her son. Her father, 65, and mother, 66, were both hospitalized in June with increased pulse rates and palpitations.

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