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The Yokohama District Court on Tuesday sentenced a former nurse to life in prison for killing three patients by putting a disinfectant into their intravenous drips at a Yokohama hospital in 2016.

The court handed down the ruling on Ayumi Kuboki, 34, who admitted during the high-profile trial to murdering the patients by mixing an antiseptic solution into their drip bags at the hospital where she worked. Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty.

Presiding Judge Kazunori Karei said Kuboki, who admitted to the murders, can be held responsible for the crimes as pointed out by the prosecutors during the trial, saying, “She committed such acts knowing they were unlawful.”

However, he concluded that sentencing Kuboki to life in prison is reasonable as her attitude during the trial showed she was remorseful.

“She understands the huge gravity of the crimes, and even said in her final statement she wants to make amends with her own death,” he said. “By having her face the weight of her guilt for the rest of her life, it is fair to have her back on the right track in life.”

Meanwhile, the prosecutors said Kuboki exhibited traits of autism spectrum disorder but she was fully competent to stand trial and that it did not affect her decision-making ability or play a part in her crimes at the hospital, which accepted terminally ill patients.

According to the ruling, Kuboki intentionally killed three inpatients — Sozo Nishikawa, 88, Asae Okitsu, 78, and Nobuo Yamaki, 88 — at the institution formerly named Oguchi Hospital by introducing the antiseptic solution into their IV drip bags.

During one of the hearings, Kuboki, who was first arrested in July 2018, said, “In order to avoid being accused by family members if patients died during my work hours, I made it so they would die when I was off duty.”

She also apologized to family members of the patients during the trial, which began last month. The hospital has been closed since 2019.

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