Hida Kimiaki

Man sentenced to death over two murders in Shizuoka

Nov. 25, 2016 -
The Shizuoka District Court on Thursday sentenced a 64-year-old man to death over the 2012 murders of a dried fish store owner and one of her employees before robbing the store of money.

In a case without solid evidence such as a murder weapon, Kimiaki Hida, a former employee of the store, had maintained his innocence from the time of his arrest. His lawyers said they will appeal the decision.

In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Chie Saito said, “Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests the defendant was the murderer.”

The death penalty for Hida is “unavoidable,” the ruling said, calling his crime “an inhumane and cruel act.”

The court ruled that Hida stabbed store owner Takako Shimizu, 59, and 71-year-old employee Keigoro Obuchi, and trapped them inside a freezer in the store setting the temperature at minus 40 C on Dec. 18, 2012, before leaving them to bleed to death.

Hida stole around 320,000 yen ($2,833) from the store, according to the ruling.

Hida told the court that he did visit the shop on the day of the incident to “ask to be rehired.” But he said that “once I saw the two in a pool of blood inside the store, I ran away because I thought I would be the suspect.”

The ruling said according to circumstantial evidence presented by public prosecutors, Hida stayed in the store at least 40 minutes and it was difficult to think he was not involved in the murders.

Demanding the death penalty before a panel of three professional judges and six citizen judges, public prosecutors argued that Hida committed the crime after getting in financial trouble with the store owner over his unemployment insurance.