NAGOYA – The Nagoya District Court has sentenced a man to life in prison for killing a woman in 2011 and causing his girlfriend’s death in 2009.
Keiji Hayashi, 44, was convicted Wednesday of strangling restaurant worker Madoka Morioka, 27, before abandoning her body in a lake in Fukui Prefecture, and of inflicting injuries on his girlfriend, Eri Asano, 26, that led to her death at his home in Gifu Prefecture.
Presiding Judge Taro Kageyama said in the ruling that the defendant had shown no respect for either victim but that the death penalty could be spared.
“Although the crimes were heinous, the death penalty is not mandatory if we take case precedents into account,” he said in rejecting prosecutors’ demand for capital punishment.
In the lay judge trial, prosecutors alleged that Hayashi made Asano wrap a chain around her neck before making her stand and with the chain dangling from a bar so that she would suffocate when she could no longer stand.
The defense disputed the charge of causing bodily injuries resulting in death, saying that Hayashi’s girlfriend strangled herself “of her own will.”
But prosecutors argued that since Hayashi had repeatedly committed violence against Asano and had gained such control over her, she had almost no choice but to obey his instructions.
The kin of Morioka and Asano said in a statement that “the ruling is disappointing and we would like to appeal to a higher court.”
Yukinobu Hayakawa, deputy chief prosecutor of the Nagoya District Public Prosecutor’s Office, said he will examine the ruling and consider whether to appeal.
Hayashi forced Asano to strangle herself with a chain at his home in July 2009, according to prosecutors. He strangled Morioka to death with his own hands in November 2011 because he believed she was obstructing him from becoming intimate with another woman who worked at the restaurant where she worked.
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