• Kyodo


A man was sentenced to death Tuesday for killing three people in Yamagata Prefecture and Tokyo in 2010 and 2011.

According to the ruling handed down by the Tokyo District Court, Katsumi Asayama, 47, killed the parents and the mother of two of his former homosexual partners, who had once lived with him but left to reside with their parents.

Presiding judge Masahiro Hiraki said the court had no choice but to sentence him to death because he murdered the three victims for selfish reasons aimed at rekindling the relationships with their sons.

The prosecutors demanded capital punishment. Asayama is the eighteenth person to be sentenced to death by lay judges since civic participation in criminal trials began in 2009.

Asayama set fire to the house of Takeyoshi Yamaka, 71, killing him and his wife, Kazuko, 69, in the city of Yamagata in October 2010. Asayama was romantically involved with their son before the murders.

Asayama’s defense team argued during the trial that he had no intention of murdering the couple, but the court said that he set the fire knowing they might die from it.

In November 2011, Asayama killed Michiko Otsuka, 76, by burning charcoal in her apartment in Koto Ward, Tokyo, to cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Asayama had gone to Otsuka’s house to see her son, who he had been romantically involved with, but she refused to let them meet.

A 44-year-old woman who had been married to Asayama and conspired with him in Otsuka’s slaying was given an 18-year prison term in a separate trial.

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