National / Crime & Legal

Man accused of 2016 mass murder at Sagamihara care home to plead not guilty at trial

Kyodo

A man accused of killing 19 residents at a care home for people with mental disabilities in Kanagawa Prefecture is expected to plead not guilty at a trial set to begin in January, sources familiar with the matter have said.

The defense team for Satoshi Uematsu, 29, plans to argue in the trial that he was mentally incompetent due to the effects of drugs such as marijuana, the sources said Friday.

Uematsu is accused of stabbing 19 people to death and injuring 26 others at Tsukui Yamayuri En in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, in the early hours of July 26, 2016. The injured included two employees who had their bodies bound to handrails in a corridor of the building.

Many of the victims were unable to communicate due to their disabilities.

According to the indictment, Uematsu broke in early on the day of the massacre in order to kill some of the patients who were being cared for at the facility.

Uematsu has reportedly said he thought people with disabilities are “costly” and that he intended to kill them, believing they “should be eradicated from society.”

Prosecutors have contended that Uematsu, a former employee at the facility, was fully mentally competent and should bear responsibility for his acts. He was diagnosed with a personality disorder associated with narcissism at an early stage of the investigation following his arrest.

Uematsu had previously been diagnosed with mental problems associated with the use of marijuana. He also tested positive for the drug after his arrest.

The trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 8 at the Yokohama District Court and a ruling is due to be handed down on March 16.

The gruesome incident sent shock waves throughout Japan. Uematsu has continued to make discriminatory remarks against those with disabilities in written interviews with media, saying people who cannot communicate bring “misfortune.”

Following the incident, the Kanagawa Prefectural Government dismantled the residential and other buildings of the facility and constructed new care homes at the site and in other locations in Yokohama.