The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence for a 62-year-old man convicted of murdering a woman who reported him to police for sexually assaulting her.
The decision by the nation’s top court was the final say on sentencing for Takashi Mochida, a former construction worker, for the murder of the 44-year-old woman.
According to the ruling, Mochida had served a seven-year prison term for the rape and was released in 1997.
However, he bore a grudge against the victim for reporting him to police after he warned her not to.
In April 1997, about two months after his release, Mochida fatally stabbed the woman at the entrance to her housing complex in Koto Ward, Tokyo.
Legal experts have been interested to see how the Supreme Court would rule, given that there was only one victim and that the murder was based on a personal grudge and not motivated by such factors as money.
In handing down Wednesday’s ruling, presiding Justice Shigeo Takii of the No. 2 Petty Bench noted that the murder of the woman was an “outrageous and self-centered act based on a unique motive.
“There was a high degree of premeditation, and (the act) was based on a strong desire to kill.”
He added that the incident also greatly shocked society.
The justice noted that the defendant had also been sentenced to 10 years in prison for murder in 1977.
“There is no choice but to endorse the decision to sentence him to death,” he said.
Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for Mochida, but in May 1999, the Tokyo District Court instead handed him a life sentence, noting that he did not gain monetarily from murder.
In the February 2000 appellate trial, the Tokyo High Court threw out the lower court ruling and gave a capital punishment sentence, saying that the “maliciousness of the crime was no different from that of murders committed for greed.”
Nobuya Masuda of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office said later Wednesday that, when compared to other death penalty decisions, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mochida case was appropriate.
The recent trend has been for the courts to hand down capital punishment sentences in cases with only one victim if the attacker is a repeat offender.
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