Life sought for man who threw boy from condo


Prosecutors sought life in prison Tuesday for a man charged with throwing a 9-year-old boy to his death from the 15th floor of a Kawasaki residential complex.

Kenji Imai, 44, is on trial at the Yokohama District Court over the slaying of Yuki Yamakawa, who lived in a 14th-floor condominium in the complex, on March 20, 2006. He has also been charged with trying to throw a custodian from the same building nine days later and a similar attempt to throw a different boy to his death at another condominium.

The focus of the trial is on whether he was mentally competent at the time of Yamakawa’s killing. His defense team has entered an insanity plea and is seeking leniency.

But the prosecutors told the court that Imai perpetrated a “cruel, premeditated attack.”

They also said Imai was “jealous of families living in happiness and tried to release his anger and irritation by destroying those families.”

Although the court has conducted psychological tests on Imai, the psychiatrist involved has dodged the central question of whether he was mentally competent at the time of the slaying.

Shortly before Yamakawa’s slaying, a resident saw the boy getting off an elevator on the top floor of the 15-story building.

His school backpack was later found in the corridor.

Imai and Yamakawa, the custodian and the other boy did not know each other.

From the beginning of the investigation, Imai’s actions were difficult for police to understand, according to investigators.

Imai initially turned himself in for assaulting the custodian after a videotape from a security camera of his assault on her was released to the media. Later, he confessed to killing Yamakawa.

But police said at the time it seemed unlikely Imai would return to the scene of the killing nine days later, speculating it would take a long time before his motive would become clear.

According to police, Imai has three children, was involved in the real estate business, visited the Kawasaki condominium complex several times and was fired in 2005.

The trial is scheduled to conclude Dec. 25 and a ruling is expected next year.