National / Crime & Legal

Miyazaki triple killer seeks retrial after victims’ family has change of heart

Kyodo

A 29-year-old man on death row for the 2010 murder of his wife, baby and mother-in-law in Miyazaki Prefecture is seeking a retrial based on a plea for leniency from a member of the victims’ family, his lawyer said Monday.

The lawyer, Tomohiro Kurohara, said a male member of the family now wants Akihiro Okumoto to atone for his crimes by living rather than dying, and said he intends to use the statement as “new evidence” warranting a retrial.

“The bereaved family’s feelings toward punishing him changed after the death sentence was finalized. We want (the judges) to consider again whether the death penalty is appropriate,” Kurohara said.

The petition was filed with the Miyazaki District Court on March 24.

Okumoto murdered his 24-year-old wife and 50-year-old mother-in-law at his home in the city of Miyazaki in March 2010 using a knife and hammer. He also killed his 5-month-old son by strangling and drowning him in a bathtub, later burying his body in a nearby yard. Okumoto committed the killings due to stress, according to a court ruling.

Okumoto was sentenced to death at a lay judge trial in 2010, and the Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court backed the ruling in 2012. He appealed to the Supreme Court the same year, but the ruling was upheld in 2014.