A 56-year-old homeless man was sentenced to death Tuesday for fatally stabbing three of his companions in Tokyo during a quarrel in September 1999 and throwing their bodies into a river.

Yoshio Ando stabbed a 60-year-old homeless man in the chest along the banks of the Arakawa River in Edogawa Ward, the Tokyo District Court ruled. Ando then stabbed two other homeless men who were nearby and threw the three bodies into the river.

Presiding Judge Yujiro Nakatani said the taking of three lives was “extremely grave” and he cast doubt on whether Ando was repentant.

“It is difficult to expect that (Ando) can be corrected, and even after cautious consideration of the case, I can only hand down the death sentence,” Nakatani said.

Ando’s lawyer argued his client was under the influence of amphetamines and suffered auditory hallucinations at the time of the crimes. As such, the lawyer said, he should only be held partially responsible for his actions.

But Nakatani said the drugs only served to heighten Ando’s violent nature and numbed his ability to control himself, and he bears full responsibility for his actions.

Ando’s confession, after two of the bodies were found, that he had slain the three men did not constitute an act of repentance and thus could not work to lessen the sentence, Nakatani said.

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