National / Crime & Legal

Death sentence confirmed after killer of two Osaka junior high school students drops appeal

JIJI

A death sentence for a man convicted of murdering two junior high school students in Osaka has been finalized after he dropped an appeal, it was learned Tuesday.

According to the Osaka High Court, the appeal against the Osaka District Court ruling of December last year was withdrawn Saturday.

In a lay judge trial, the district court sentenced Koji Yamada, 49, to death, ruling that he strangled Ryoto Hoshino, 12, and Natsumi Hirata, 13, who were both students at a junior high school in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture.

“The criminal responsibility is extremely grave. The choice of the ultimate penalty is unavoidable,” the court said.

The defense team claimed that Hoshino died due to health problems. Regarding the death of Hirata, the team said that the girl stopped moving after Yamada’s hands, which he had put on her mouth, moved to her neck when the girl shouted.

According to the ruling, Yamada strangled Hirata in or near Osaka on Aug. 13, 2015. Hoshino was also strangled the same day.

On Tuesday, an attorney for Hoshino’s family said that the dropped appeal won’t bring the boy back.

“His family is living in unimaginable grief,” the lawyer said.