National / Crime & Legal

Sagamihara care home mass murderer won't appeal death penalty ruling

Kyodo

A man who was sentenced to death over the 2016 murder of 19 people with mental disabilities at a care home in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, said Wednesday he will not appeal the ruling.

Satoshi Uematsu, a 30-year-old former employee at the Tsukui Yamayuri En care facility, said that even if his defense counsel files an appeal by the March 30 deadline, he will request it be dropped.

“I kind of expected (the death penalty) but I’m not convinced (I deserve it),” Uematsu said.

The Yokohama District Court ruled Monday that Uematsu is competent and can be held criminally liable for his actions, in which 26 people were injured in addition to the 19 killed.

“I think it is wrong to continue my trial at higher courts. I have found my own answer,” Uematsu said, adding he feels “heavy hearted” when he thinks of how difficult it will be for him to receive visitors once his death sentence has been finalized.

Uematsu expressed no regrets about making discriminatory remarks about people with severe disabilities at court hearings.

“I don’t think I’m saying something wrong. … (Those people) have no right to complain even if they were killed,” he said.

In the trial, he said people with disabilities who cannot communicate their thoughts “create unhappiness in society.”

Asked about how he felt when bereaved families spoke during hearings, Uematsu said, “I thought they became hysterical. They didn’t touch my heart.”

He also removed a bandage from his right little finger, which he tried to bite off during his first court hearing in January, saying, “I thought it was the grittiest way to offer my apology.”

After the ruling was delivered Monday, Uematsu raised his hand and asked for permission to speak, but the judge rejected the request. He later said that he wanted to explain in court that it would be a positive thing for Japan if marijuana use was accepted.

The Yokohama court ruled his motivation for killing people with disabilities was mainly formed through his experience working at the care facility, rejecting the defense team’s argument that the influence of marijuana caused him to carry out the attack.

The court also described the “grave consequences” of the stabbing rampage when handing down the death sentence, saying it is incomparable to other incidents.

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