The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced a 29-year-old man to 26 years in prison for killing a 2-year-old boy he baby-sat in 2014.
The high court dismissed an appeal by Yuji Motte, who argued that the boy’s death was accidental and sought a seven-year prison term. It also rejected an appeal from prosecutors who demanded a life sentence.
According to the ruling by the Yokohama District Court in July 2016, Motte took the boy and his baby brother from Yokohama to his apartment in Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture, for the purpose of molestation, and suffocated the boy to death by covering his nose and mouth.
The district court also ruled in a lay judge trial that the defendant failed to provide milk to the baby brother, then 8 months old, causing the infant to suffer serious hypoglycemia.
Motte was also found guilty of producing child pornography by taking photos of around 20 naked children he looked after. The brothers from Yokohama were among the victimized children.
His defense counsel had claimed that the 2-year-old boy drowned while taking a bath and that Motte should have been charged with professional negligence resulting in death.
Presiding Judge Kazuyuki Okuma of the Tokyo High Court acknowledged that the 26-year sentence was “somewhat light” but, considering the fact it was given at “a lay judge trial, which reflects citizens’ various perspectives, it cannot be said it was unjustifiably light.”
The boy’s mother told reporters following the ruling that she was disappointed by the high court for not giving the defendant a longer prison term.