Matsubara Tomohiro

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Death sentence upheld for man convicted of killing family of 3
(Mainichi Japan) March 22, 2012

TOKYO (Kyodo) The Tokyo High Court upheld on Thursday a lower court decision that sentenced a 41-year-old man to death for killing a family of three in 2010.

The defendant, Tomohiro Matsubara, was the first to receive a high court decision among defendants sentenced to death by panels of professional and citizen judges. His defense counsel immediately filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against the decision.

In March 2011, a panel of three professional and six citizen judges at the Nagano District Court sentenced Matsubara to death as sought by prosecutors, convicting him of killing 62-year-old Fumio Kin, a construction contractor, his son Yoshiaki, 30, and Yoshiaki's wife Yukiko Kusumi, 26, at their home in the city of Nagano, capital of Nagano Prefecture, on March 24, 2010.

Matsubara was also convicted of stealing about 4.1 million yen and of burying the bodies of the victims in a storage yard in Nishio, Aichi Prefecture.

In Thursday's decision, Presiding Judge Hiromichi Inoue turned down Matsubara's appeal and said his act is a cruel crime that brought about serious results.

Together with Matsubara, three other defendants were indicted in the murder-robbery case. Two of the three, who were sentenced to death at the Nagano District Court, have filed appeals with the same high court. Prosecutors have sought a life sentence for the fourth defendant who did not join the act of killing the three victims.

Judge Inoue said that the citizen judge scheme is constitutional, brushing aside the defense's argument that the lay-judge system imposes a heavy burden on citizens in deciding on a death sentence and runs counter to the Constitution.