Kawasaki Masanori

High court upholds death penalty for triple murderer
(Mainichi Japan) October 14, 2009

TAKAMATSU -- A high court has upheld the death penalty for a man convicted of killing his sister-in-law and her two granddaughters, dismissing his appeal.

The death sentence for Masanori Kawasaki, 63, was upheld Wednesday by Presiding Judge Hideki Shibata of the Takamatsu High Court for the murders of Keiko Miura, 58, and her granddaughters Akane Yamashita, 5, and Ayana Yamashita, 3.

According to the ruling, Kawasaki broke into Miura's home in Sakaide, Kagawa Prefecture, on Nov. 16, 2007, and fatally stabbed Miura and her visiting granddaughters with a knife. Kawasaki then buried their bodies near Sakaide Port. Kawasaki had harbored a grudge toward Miura over money and other issues, the ruling said.

Since Kawasaki had admitted to the charges in the indictment, the focus of the first and second hearings was on whether he was mentally competent to be held responsible for the crime. The lower court ruled in favor of prosecutors who demanded the death penalty, but the defense counsel demanded a life sentence, saying, "The defendant was in a state of diminished capacity, and there were factual errors with the lower court decision in that it denied his diminished responsibility. It is too harsh to sentence him to death."

Kawasaki's attorneys also requested an additional psychiatric evaluation during the appeal trial, but Presiding Judge Shibata dismissed their request and said in the ruling, "That the defendant harbored an extremely firm intent to kill (the victim) derives from his character and cannot be thought to be based on a mental disorder."

Man handed death penalty for 'brutal' murder
of woman, 2 children

March 16, 2009

TAKAMATSU -- A man convicted of murdering his 58-year-old sister-in-law and her two young grandchildren in an attack described as "relentless and brutal" was sentenced to death by the Takamatsu District Court on Monday.

The man, Masanori Kawasaski, 63, was convicted of killing Keiko Miura, 58, and her grandchildren Akane and Ayana Yamashita, aged 5 and 3, respectively.

"His motives were selfish and self-centered, and there is no room for leniency. The crime was relentless and brutal," Presiding Judge Noriaki Kikuchi said in handing down the ruling.

Lawyers for Kawasaki immediately filed an appeal.

The focus of the case was Kawasaki's criminal responsibility. Prosecutors pointed out that he carefully prepared for the crime and made efforts to hide the evidence, and that the results of a psychiatric evaluation and other factors clearly showed that he bore criminal responsibility.

Lawyers for Kawasaki had sought a life sentence, arguing that a brace of mental problems, including low IQ, pervasive development disorder and weak-mindedness, made it extremely difficult for him to stop himself from the act despite being aware of its morality. However, the district court ruled that he bore full criminal responsibility.

Kawasaki was convicted of entering Miura's home in Sakaide, Kagawa Prefecture, at about 3:45 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2007, stabbing Miura and her grandchildren to death, and burying their bodies.