OSAKA – The Supreme Court has upheld a high court ruling that overturned a death sentence and gave an indefinite term to an unemployed man for killing two pedestrians in the city of Osaka in 2012.
Kyozo Isohi, 44, stabbed Shingo Minamino, then 42, and Toshi Sasaki, then 66, to death on a street in the Minami area on June 10, 2012, according to rulings by the Osaka district and high courts.
In the district court trial under the lay judge system, Isohi was sentenced to death. But the high court handed down the lighter sentence on the grounds that he was suffering from auditory hallucinations, only two people were killed, and the attack wasn’t planned.
Both prosecutors and Isohi’s lawyers appealed the high court ruling to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s First Petty Bench, presided over by Justice Hiroshi Koike, dismissed both appeals, thus confirming the lower court decision. An indefinite term can mean a life sentence, but parole is possible.
This is the fifth case in which a high court has dismissed a death penalty delivered by lay judges. Among them, the Minami stabbing was the first multiple murder case in which prosecutors appealed against a high court’s reversal of a lower court ruling.