NARA – A repeat sex offender was sentenced to death Tuesday for the kidnap-murder of a 7-year-old girl in 2004 in a gruesome case in which he used the victim’s cell phone to send her mother a photo of the corpse and to threaten to kill the girl’s sister.
Calling Kaoru Kobayashi’s actions “coldblooded and vicious,” presiding Judge Tetsuya Okuda of the Nara District Court ruled he committed all eight criminal counts against him and said, “There are no extenuating circumstances.”
Prosecutors sought the gallows for the 37-year-old newspaper deliveryman over the murder of Kaede Ariyama of Nara Prefecture, saying he cannot be rehabilitated.
Kobayashi’s counsel had argued for a lighter sentence, claiming society was partially to blame for his crime because he had an unfortunate upbringing that turned him into a pedophile.
Kobayashi pleaded guilty. “I want to be executed quickly,” he told the court.
Okuda read out the reasons for meting out the sentence and told a motionless Kobayashi to “face the seriousness of the crime.”
The focus of the trial was whether he would get the death penalty.
Twenty people have received capital punishment for murder-robbery or repeat murders since 1983, when the Supreme Court set conditions for death sentences. However, no one until Kobayashi received it for a single count of murder committed in the act of molestation.
Kobayashi is believed to have offered a ride to Ariyama on Nov. 17, 2004, as she was on her way home from school in the city of Nara. He then abducted her, took her to his apartment in Sango, molested her and drowned her in his bathtub before dumping her mutilated corpse in a farm road gutter in the town of Heguri.
Kobayashi was accused of deciding to kill Ariyama because he felt she was intelligent and would alert police if he freed her.
He took a photo of the dead girl and sent it to her mother over the girl’s mobile phone, and about a month later sent her a message threatening to target the girl’s younger sister as well.
Kobayashi’s trial, which began in April, was suspended in July while he underwent a psychiatric analysis. The professor in charge of the examination concluded he was highly likely to be a repeat offender.
Kobayashi has a record of sex offenses against children and the case spurred the Justice Ministry in June 2005 to begin sharing with the National Police Agency information on such offenders who have been freed from prison.
Okuda said it would be “extremely difficult” for Kobayashi to be rehabilitated, given his criminal record of sex offenses and because he has shown no remorse over Ariyama’s slaying.
Hirohiko Tanaka, the principal of Ariyama’s elementary school, told reporters after the ruling it is only natural that Kobayashi be hanged but added that this would never ease the family’s sorrow.
He noted that even though nearly two years have passed since the killing, parents still accompany their children to and from the school, and teachers and parents lay flowers on Ariyama’s desk, which was moved to the principal’s office.
“For the children and parents, the case will never end,” Tanaka said.
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