Hokao Shizuo

Man loses appeal over death sentence for killing lover's husband, son
Mainichi January 31, 2008

The Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty ruling handed to a man who killed his lover's husband and son in order to swindle 100 million yen in life insurance benefits taken out on the husband.

The first petty bench of the top court on Thursday dismissed an appeal filed by Kazuo Hokao, 60, a former antique art dealer, upholding the death sentence handed down by the lower courts.

"His responsibility is extremely grave in that he killed the victims to obtain insurance money without thinking of their suffering and the importance of their lives," Presiding Judge Norio Wakui said in handing down the ruling.

Hokao was convicted of murdering the husband and the second son of his lover Reiko Yamaguchi, 49, in Saga and Nagasaki prefectures in the 1990s. Yamaguchi has been sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring with Hokao over the murders.

The defense lawyers for Hokao asked the top court to spare him the death penalty, but the court rejected the demand, saying, "The defendant (Hokao) proposed killing Yamaguchi's second son and convinced her to go ahead with the plan. The defendant also disposed of her son in the sea."

According to the May 2004 ruling handed down by the Fukuoka High Court, Hokao and Yamaguchi drugged Yamaguchi's husband, Katsuhiko, 38, by lacing curry he ate with sleeping pills and drowned him in the sea off Tara, Saga Prefecture, in September 1992, making it appear as if he accidentally fell into the sea.

The pair then swindled about 100 million yen in life insurance benefits taken out on the victim.

In October 1998, the pair had Yamaguchi's son, Yoshinori, 16, take sleeping pills and fatally threw him into the sea off the coast of Isahaya, Nagasaki Prefecture.

The Nagasaki District Court had sentenced the pair to death in January 2003, but the Fukuoka High Court later spared Yamaguchi capital punishment, saying, "There is a possibility that she could rehabilitate."


Husband killer remarries in jail
Sunday, Dec. 19, 2004

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) A 46-year-old woman appealing a life sentence for murdering her husband and son has married a man she became acquainted with while in jail, according to sources.

Reiko Yamaguchi, a former life insurance saleswoman, reportedly changed her surname to that of her new husband. She married the man after filing an appeal with the Supreme Court in June to overturn a life sentence for killing her husband in 1992 and their son in 1998 for insurance money in a conspiracy with her boyfriend, Kazuo Hokao.


Woman appeals life term to top court
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) A woman convicted of killing her husband and son for insurance money has appealed a high court ruling that commuted a death sentence to life in prison, the high court said Monday.

Prosecutors have already abandoned appealing the Fukuoka High Court ruling.

"We have considered the conditions necessary for appealing to the Supreme Court and the lives of the people concerned," a senior prosecutor at the Fukuoka High Public Prosecutor's Office said, apparently referring to the two remaining children of the woman, Reiko Yamaguchi.

The high court overturned the death penalty handed down against Yamaguchi, saying she had been lured into committing the killings by an accomplice and could be rehabilitated. But the court upheld the death sentence for her accomplice, Kazuo Hokao.
The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 8, 2004
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Condemned killer loses appeal but lover gets life

Saturday, May 22, 2004

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) The Fukuoka High Court on Friday upheld the death penalty for a man convicted of murdering the husband and son of his lover for insurance money, but reduced the same sentence for the woman to life in prison.
The defendants, former antique art dealer Kazuo Hokao and former insurance saleswoman Reiko Yamaguchi, 45, were both sentenced to death by the Nagasaki District Court in January 2003 for murdering Yamaguchi's 38-year-old husband, Katsuhiko, in September 1992 and fraudulently receiving 98.7 million yen in insurance money. They were also found guilty of killing her son, Yoshinori, 16, in October 1998.
Both defendants had appealed the ruling.

During the appellate trial, Yamaguchi's lawyers argued that her lover was completely controlling her with physical abuse. They added that her other son and daughter have said they did not want her to receive capital punishment and that she could be rehabilitated.

Lawyers for Hokao had asked for a lesser sentence, arguing that the slayings did not warrant the death penalty.
Prosecutors argued that the crime should be seen as a "joint effort" by the pair and that the sentences should not be reduced.

Yoshitaka Kaneko, deputy chief prosecutor of the Fukuoka High Public Prosecutor's Office, issued a statement late Friday that his office would thoroughly examine the high court's ruling reducing Yamaguchi's sentence before deciding whether to proceed further with the case.

The Japan Times: Saturday, May 22, 2004
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Pair sentenced to die for insurance slayings
The Japan Times: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2003

NAGASAKI (Kyodo) A man and his girlfriend were sentenced to death Friday for killing the woman's husband in 1992 and her son in 1998 for life insurance money.

Reiko Yamaguchi (left) and Kazuo Hokao
Antique dealer Kazuo Hokao, 55, and former insurance saleswoman Reiko Yamaguchi, 44, drowned her husband Katsuhiko Yamaguchi, 38, at a quay in Tara, Saga Prefecture, on Sept. 11, 1992, after giving him sleeping pills, the Nagasaki District Court ruled.

The pair also drowned Yamaguchi's 16-year-old son, Yoshinori, in Konagai, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Oct. 27, 1998, according to the ruling.

Presiding Judge Keizo Yamamoto said the crimes "were not the acts of humans" and said there was no choice but to hand down the death penalty.

The pair pleaded guilty to the charges but blamed each other for taking the lead in the crimes. In July, prosecutors had demanded death sentences for both.

Yamamoto said the two "acted in unison in all stages -- the planning, preparation and perpetration" in the murder of Yamaguchi's husband. He added that while the two had helped each other, Yamaguchi was a necessary component in the crime as she was the recipient of the insurance money and thus her responsibility is greater than that of Hokao.
According to the judge, the murder of Yamaguchi's son would have similarly been impossible if either one of the two had not taken part in the plan. As such, the court cannot determine which bore heavier responsibility, he said.

After reading out the sentence, the judge added, "This court has concluded that the death penalty cannot be avoided, but I add that I, too, would like you to appeal so that (a higher court) can also consider the case."

Both Hokao and Yamaguchi are expected to appeal the ruling.
During the trial, Yamaguchi's lawyers said she wanted to kill her husband in retaliation for his repeated extramarital affairs. They added that when Hokao, who was a gambling addict and would often beat her, came up with the idea of killing her son, Yamaguchi thought that she could end their relationship if she gave him the insurance money.

Yamaguchi's other son and daughter said in statements read to the court during the trial that they want their mother to come home, and her lawyers asked that she not be given the death penalty.

However, Yamamoto said that because the case was an internal family matter, it was only natural for close relatives to seek a lenient ruling.

"The murder of the husband was premeditated, and the killing of the son is unparalleled in its cruelty. There is no premise for reducing the sentence," according to the judge.

Lawyers for Hokao argued that Yamaguchi played the lead role in the murder of her husband, and that there was little difference in responsibility for the death of her son, which abused the teen's trust of his mother.
But the judge said Hokao actively took part in the killings and that he played a major role by strongly pushing the plans forward.

The defendants, residents of Kashima, Saga Prefecture, pushed the husband off the quay and received some 100 million yen in insurance money by falsely declaring he had died in a fishing accident, the court ruled. The Saga Prefectural Police did not conduct an autopsy or carry out an in-depth investigation into the case.

The pair claimed an insurance payment of 35 million yen for the boy's death, but the insurers refused to pay because rescuers who recovered his body from the sea doubted the couple's explanation that he died accidentally after sleeping drugs were detected in his body, after which police opened an investigation.

The Japan Times: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2003
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Death sought for defendants in insurance murder trial
The Japan Times: Wednesday, July 24, 2002

NAGASAKI (Kyodo) Prosecutors demanded the death penalty Tuesday for a woman and man charged with murdering the woman's husband and her son, both for insurance payouts.
When their Nagasaki District Court trial opened in February 2000, Reiko Yamaguchi, 43, and Kazuo Hokao, 55, admitted drowning Yamaguchi's husband, Katsuhiko, 38, and son, Yoshinori, 16.
According to prosecutors, Yamaguchi, a former insurance saleswoman, and Hokao, an antique dealer, killed the husband after giving him a sleeping drug, on a pier in Tara, Saga Prefecture, on Sept. 11, 1992.

The wife received 99 million yen in insurance money after she and Hokao allegedly conspired to falsely declare the victim had died in a fishing accident.

The two are also charged with drowning Yamaguchi's son in Konagai, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Oct. 27, 1998, after giving him a health drink laced with sleeping pills.

The defendants claimed an insurance payment of 35 million yen for the son's death. But the insurers refused to pay because rescuers who retrieved his body from the sea were suspicious about the couple's explanation that he had died accidentally, and police then opened an investigation, the prosecutors said.

The two have given conflicting accounts about who plotted the crimes.

Prosecutors said Yamaguchi proposed killing her husband to Hokao after her mother-in-law had told her that her husband planned to divorce her. Hokao proposed killing Yamaguchi's son six years after they killed her husband, prosecutors said, adding that Yamaguchi actually helped kill her son by forcing him under the water.

The Japan Times: Wednesday, July 24, 2002
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