National / Crime & Legal

Peruvian drifter gets death for 2015 slayings of six in Saitama

Kyodo

A Peruvian man was sentenced to death Friday for murdering six people including two girls in their homes in Saitama Prefecture in 2015.

The Saitama District Court handed Vayron Jonathan Nakada Ludena, 32, capital punishment after concluding he was mentally fit enough to be held liable for his crimes.

His defense counsel, which had argued he had schizophrenia and was not mentally competent to be held responsible for his conduct, appealed the ruling.

Nakada Ludena was charged with murder-robbery. The death sentence reached by a panel of professional and lay judges was in line with prosecutors’ demands.

“The consequence of claiming the lives of six innocent people is grave and they were cruel crimes,” the presiding Judge Naoto Sasaki said in the ruling.

Citing Nakada Ludena’s efforts to hide the bodies and wipe away blood at the crime scenes, the judge said the defendant “knew” his actions were criminal.

According to the ruling, Nakada Ludena broke into three homes in the city of Kumagaya between Sept. 14 and 16, 2015, to steal money and valuable items.

He fatally stabbed a couple in their 50s, an 84-year-old woman, and a 41-year-old woman and her 10-year-old and 7-year-old daughters and stole a car and some ¥9,000 in cash.

Nakada Ludena was arrested the following month in connection with the couple’s deaths after plunging from a second-floor window at the third home on Sept. 16. Police subsequently served him with further arrest warrants relating to the other victims while he was hospitalized.

His lawyers had argued that he was acting under the overwhelming influence of his mental illness.

Prosecutors admitted the defendant was getting paranoid at the time of the crimes but insisted he was competent to judge between right and wrong.

Nakada Ludena stared at the floor for over 2½ hours while the ruling was read out through an interpreter.

“It is clear that the defendant knew he was taking dangerous actions that could claim people’s lives,” the ruling said.

A 45-year-old man whose wife and two daughters were killed by Nakada Ludena asked the lay judges at the trial in February: “What would you think if all of your family were killed one day and you were suddenly left alone?”

In the morning, around 500 people lined up in front of the court to get a ticket for the 24 seats provided to observe the high-profile case.