• Kyodo

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Prosecutors again sought the death penalty Thursday at the Hiroshima High Court for a man charged with killing a woman and her baby in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1999, when he was a minor.

The demand follows a Supreme Court order to the high court to review its previous ruling, which sentenced the man to life imprisonment.

In a decision in June 2006, the top court sent the case back to the high court for retrial, saying there was no sufficient reason for the court not to have given him the death penalty. It also said that capital punishment is the only option unless there are any special circumstances to be taken into consideration for leniency.

In March 2002, the high court upheld the life sentence handed to the defendant in March 2000 by the Yamaguchi District Court. The court ruled that the man, now 26, strangled 23-year-old Yayoi Motomura with his hands and raped her, and also strangled her 11-month-old daughter Yuka with a rope after knocking her to the floor in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

At Thursday’s hearing, the lawyers for the defendant, whose name is being withheld because he was an 18-year-old minor at the time he committed the crime, said the death penalty should be avoided because he did not intend to kill them and he should be charged with inflicting injuries resulting in death instead of with murder.

The defense also said the incident was a reflection of “the extreme mental immaturity of the defendant,” arguing that he had inadvertently strangled Yayoi as she tried to fight back.

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