• Kyodo

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A 19-year-old youth was sentenced Monday to an indefinite prison term of between five and eight years for murdering a 71-year-old woman in Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture, in January 1999.

The Niigata District Court delivered the indefinite sentence under the Juvenile Law, which focuses on the possibility of rehabilitation and requires such sentences for offenders under the age of 20.

Prosecutors had sought an indefinite jail term of between five and 10 years.

According to the ruling, the unemployed youth, whose name is being withheld because he is a minor, broke into the house of Michino Horisawa in Ojiya and fatally beat her on the head with a hammer. The boy did not know the victim.

In previous court sessions, the boy explained his motive for the crime, saying, “I thought I could die if I killed someone.”

The defendant’s lawyers demanded the court transfer the case to a family court in accordance with the Juvenile Law on the grounds that the boy has suffered from schizothymic personality disorder and should be treated under probation rather than face a prison term.

The boy was initially transferred to the family court. After examining his mental health, the family court moved him back to prosecutors, saying his act was beyond the probation level.

Prosecutors then indicted the boy.

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