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A former nursing home employee was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for the murder of an 84-year-old female resident in February.

The Kanazawa District Court determined that Masaru Matsuda, 28, a part-time employee at Group Home Takamatsu in Kakoku, Ishikawa Prefecture, intended to kill Kimiko Takayama when he caused burns on her body by placing an oil heater close to her for an extended period.

“The accused recognized that the victim might die,” presiding Judge Mitsuru Horiuchi said.

Prosecutors had demanded a 13-year sentence.

According to the court, Matsuda was angered when Takayama, who was suffering senile dementia, kicked and extinguished an oil heater in her room in the early hours of Feb. 12.

Matsuda started up the heater and placed it close to her face and abdomen for several dozen minutes as she tried to escape. Police determined she died of shock stemming from the burns.

He was arrested the following day after apparently trying to commit suicide by taking sleeping pills.

Initially, investigators quoted Matsuda as saying he “did not care if Takayama died” as he tortured her with the heater.

In court, however, he stated that he was “so angry and agitated” that it did not dawn on him that she might die.

Prosecutors argued that Matsuda changed his statement in court in an attempt to lessen his culpability.

Matsuda had worked at the nursing home for about 15 months. He had no earlier record of assaulting institutionalized people.

Takayama moved into the facility in March 2004 and had difficulty walking without assistance.

Welfare murder case

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Police served an arrest warrant on a district welfare officer on suspicion of robbing and murdering an 83-year-old woman who lived alone in a municipal apartment.

The suspect, Kazuko Esumi, 54, of Kita Ward, Nagoya, had already been indicted on a theft charge.

According to police, Esumi strangled Shizuko Takashima in her apartment sometime between the evening of March 22 and the late afternoon of March 23 and made away with her bank card.

Esumi was in charge of Takashima’s welfare case.

The earlier indictment was for allegedly using the bank card to withdraw 53,000 yen from Takashima’s bank account.

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