FUKUOKA – The Fukuoka High Court upheld the death penalty for a nurse convicted of conspiring with three other hospital employees to kill two of their husbands for insurance money.
Junko Yoshida, 46, was found guilty by the Fukuoka District Court in September 2004 of being the mastermind behind the killings in 1998 and 1999. At the appellate court, she argued that she didn’t have absolute control over her accomplices and asked that the sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.
Presiding Judge Hiroshi Hamasaki ruled that Yoshida “played a far greater role than the accomplices.”
Yoshida “clearly manipulated her accomplices with clever lies and (therefore, the court) must mete out capital punishment,” Hamasaki said.
The high court also upheld the sentence for nurse Hitomi Ishii, 47, who received 17 years in prison.
A ruling on clinical research coordinator Miyuki Tsutsumi, 46, who got life imprisonment, is expected Thursday.
Ishii and Tsutsumi confessed to the killings but said Yoshida drew them into the plot.
The remaining defendant, Kazuko Ikegami, 43, also a nurse, died of cancer Sept. 1 before her ruling was handed down.
According to the high court, Yoshida, Tsutsumi and Ikegami killed Ikegami’s 39-year-old husband in Kurume in January 1998 by injecting air into his bloodstream.
In March 1999, the four women killed Ishii’s 44-year-old husband in Okawa by injecting a large amount of liquor into his stomach through a medical tube.
The defendants received 67 million yen in insurance money for the deaths, the court said.
They were arrested in April 2002 after Ishii, who was allegedly threatened by Yoshida and the others, confessed to the Fukuoka Prefectural Police about her husband’s murder.