The Urawa District Court on Wednesday sentenced a dog breeder and his former wife to death for fatally poisoning four people in a dispute over money in 1993.

Gen Sekine, 59, of Konan, Saitama Prefecture, was convicted of killing the four victims, destroying their bodies and dumping the remains. Sekine's former wife, 44-year-old Hiroko Kazama, who owned a pet shop, was convicted for her role in three of the slayings. Presiding Judge Masaru Suda said he fully supports prosecutors' accounts of the events and denounced the couple's crimes as "extremely fiendish," noting that the death penalty was inevitable. Prosecutors had demanded that both defendants be sentenced to hang.

Suda handed down the death sentence shortly after 4 p.m. -- hours after he started reading the ruling in the morning.

According to the court and the indictments, the couple killed Akio Kawasaki, a 39-year-old company employee from Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture, in April 1993 by having the victim take a capsule filled with strychnine nitrate -- a toxin used for the mercy killing of pets.