SAITAMA – A woman accused of killing three of her lovers was sentenced to death Friday in a high-profile lay judge trial that was based solely on circumstantial evidence.
The Saitama District Court ruled that Kanae Kijima, 37, killed the three men in 2009 and attempted to disguise their deaths as suicides.
In handing down the sentence to Kijima, the presiding judge, Kazuyuki Okuma, said: “The defendant repeatedly committed quite serious crimes that claimed the lives of three people.
“There is no room for leniency because the defendant committed the crimes for selfish purposes,” he said. “She repeated irrational excuses in court and did not show any remorse.”
Takao Terada, 53, and Kenzo Ando, 80, were found dead at their homes in suburban Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture, while 41-year-old Yoshiyuki Oide’s body was discovered in a rented car in Saitama Prefecture.
The lay judges served for 100 days, the longest period on record since the system was introduced in 2009, and the lack of conclusive evidence placed an enormous amount of pressure on them.
Prosecutors had demanded the death sentence, saying Kijima only dated the men for their money to support a luxurious lifestyle, and killed all three after they demanded she repay them.
They claimed that all three men died of carbon monoxide poisoning from coal briquettes and stoves that Kijima herself had prepared. She dated the men until just before they died, they said.
“The defendant committed the crimes so she could maintain an embellished life,” Judge Okuma said.
The defense counsel, however, argued that Terada and Oide both committed suicide after arguing with Kijima about breaking up, and that Ando’s death was accidental. They immediately appealed to a higher court the same day.
“The evidence presented by the prosecutors does not sufficiently prove the defendant murdered the three men,” the defense team said.