Mori Takemitsu

Osaka prison guard formerly sentenced to death, is just one of seven defendants in modern Japanese history to have a death sentence overturned by the Supreme Court.

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No new evidence to prove man guilty of killing family members: sources

August 2, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)

Japanese version|

OSAKA -- Public prosecutors here have found no fresh evidence to prove a man guilty of killing family members as DNA samples collected from the body of one of the victims didn't match those of the defendant, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.
    Takemitsu Mori, 59, a prison guard at Osaka Prison, has been charged with murder and arson over the deaths of Mayumi Mori and her son at their apartment in Osaka's Hirano Ward in 2002. Mayumi's husband is the son of a woman who remarried Takemitsu. Takemitsu was once sentenced to life by the Osaka District Court and then to death by the Osaka High Court. But he was later acquitted by the district court after the case was sent back to the lower court following the Supreme Court's rejection of the initial rulings. The defendant now stands trial at an appeal at the Osaka High Court.

    Prosecutors recently conducted an independent DNA analysis on the numerous skin flakes that had been left on the woman's body using a new method with high accuracy, but failed to detect DNA identical to that of the defendant, according to sources close to the investigation.

    The appeal trial was resumed at the Osaka High Court in June after almost a three-year hiatus. During a hearing in June, it was decided that the case will be closed following the next hearing slated for Sept. 13. The Osaka High Public Prosecutors Office, however, revealed that it had asked Osaka Prefectural Police's crime laboratory to conduct an independent DNA analysis and that it would demand the case be tried further if any new evidence emerged.

    Takemitsu Mori was indicted on charges of murdering Mayumi Mori, then 28, and her 1-year-old son Toma at their apartment in Osaka's Hirano Ward on April 14, 2002, before torching the structure. There is no direct evidence corroborating his involvement in the crime, and evaluations of circumstantial evidence have been the main point of contention during the trial. The defendant has pleaded his innocence throughout the trial.

    Prosecutors conducted DNA examinations on 10 items including on a dog lead, which is believed to have been used as the murder weapon, but none of the DNA samples matched those of the defendant's.






     〈大阪市平野区の母子殺害事件〉 2002年4月、マンション一室が全焼して女性と長男の遺体が見つかった。11月、女性の義父の森被告を大阪府警が逮捕。マンションの階段踊り場の灰皿にあったたばこの吸い殻72本のうち1本から被告のDNA型と一致する唾液(だえき)成分が検出され、一審の無期懲役、二審の死刑判決の決め手とされた。残る吸い殻は府警が紛失して問題に。最高裁は10年4月、吸い殻が事件以前に捨てられた可能性があるとして審理を差し戻し、大阪地裁は12年3月に無罪を言い渡した。

    Man once sentenced to death cleared of murder-arson charges

    (Mainichi Japan) March 15, 2012

    OSAKA (Kyodo) -- The Osaka District Court on Thursday acquitted a man previously sentenced to death for killing his daughter-in-law and her son and setting fire to their apartment in Osaka in 2002.

    A three-judge panel of the court handed down the ruling after the Supreme Court in April 2010 repealed a high court decision sentencing the defendant, Takemitsu Mori, 54, to death and ordered a retrial.

    It is the first time since 1990 that a defendant previously sentenced to death in a high court ruling has subsequently been found not guilty in a retrial ordered by the Supreme Court.

    During both the original trial and retrial, defendant Mori pleaded not guilty, saying he had never entered the apartment of the woman and her son on the day of the alleged murders and arson. On Thursday, the district court ruled there was no evidence to prove he entered the apartment that day.

    Mori was arrested in November 2002, seven months after the victims -- Mayumi Mori, 28, and her 1-year-old son Toma -- were found dead in their apartment in Osaka's Hirano Ward on April 14 that year. Mori was also accused of setting fire to the apartment.

    In the original trial, the Osaka District Court found Mori guilty and sentenced him in August 2005 to life imprisonment. The Osaka High Court subsequently revoked the district court decision and sentenced Mori to death in December 2006 as sought by prosecutors.

    The focal point of the retrial was whether circumstantial evidence presented by prosecutors was sufficient to find him guilty.

    In Thursday's ruling, Presiding Judge Kazuo Mizushima said there was no evidence that proved the defendant had entered the apartment that day and added it was doubtful Mori had ever visited the apartment.

    At the time of the crimes, Mori was working as a guard at Osaka Prison and was married to Mayumi's mother-in-law. They later divorced. He has been on leave from his job since his indictment.

    During the investigation, police collected 72 cigarette butts from a staircase at the apartment and found that saliva on one of them matched Mori's DNA type.

    In Thursday's decision, Mizushima said the victim might have thrown away the cigarette butts and it was difficult to conclude from that one piece of evidence that the defendant had visited the apartment on the day of the crimes.

    Mizushima brushed aside new test results presented by prosecutors regarding the color change of the cigarette butt, saying the results were not based on experts' advice and scientific knowledge. The judge also criticized the police for having disposed of the other 71 cigarette butts.

    During the original trials at the district and high courts, prosecutors presented circumstantial evidence to suggest Mori's involvement in the case because of the absence of direct evidence linking him to the crimes.

    Tadafumi Oshima, deputy chief prosecutor at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, said it is regrettable the prosecutors' arguments had not been accepted.

     弁護側請求 検察承知、開示拒む
    毎日新聞 2011518日 大阪朝刊








    大阪・母子殺害放火:未検査の吸い殻71本 府警が紛失

    毎日新聞 2011517









    Supreme Court Nullifies Death Sentence


    The Supreme Court, in a rare decision Tuesday, nullified the death sentence in a murder-arson case and sent it back to a district court, saying factual errors may have occurred in lower court trials.

    The ruling by the top court's third petty bench opens the way for Takemitsu Mori, 52, to be acquitted of killing his daughter-in-law and her son and setting fire to their Osaka apartment in April 2002.

    Mori, a prison worker now on administrative leave, has consistently denied he committed the crimes. There was no evidence directly linking Mori to the crimes.

    The Osaka District Court, with only circumstantial evidence to go on, sentenced Mori to life in prison in August 2005. That decision was overturned by the Osaka High Court, which sentenced him to death in December 2006.

    Both courts ruled that Mori strangled his son's wife Mayumi, 28, drowned her son Toma, 1, and started the fire. The top court scrapped both sentences.

    It was the first time in 21 years for the Supreme Court to overturn a death sentence and remand the case to a lower court.
    Top court nixes death sentence

    Kyodo News

    April 28, 2010

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday nullified the death sentence on a man convicted of murdering his daughter-in-law and her son and setting their Osaka home on fire in 2002, raising the possibility he was falsely accused.

    In addition to revoking the sentence handed down by the Osaka High Court in 2006 due to factual errors, the Supreme Court also reversed a ruling by the Osaka District Court to imprison Takemitsu Mori, 52, for life and sent the case back to the district court.

    "It is extremely difficult to find him guilty based solely on the indirect evidence presented in the lower court rulings," presiding Justice Tokiyasu Fujita said. "It would be a great injustice if we do not reverse" the rulings.

    Prosecutors, who failed to gather direct evidence tying Mori to the murders, presented DNA tests on a cigarette butt retrieved from the apartment and witness accounts. The district and high courts judged that the evidence indicated Mori was involved in the slayings.

    Takemitsu Mori was charged with strangling 28-year-old Mayumi Mori, drowning her 1-year-old son, Toma, and setting fire to their apartment. He has consistently denied the charges, saying he never stepped foot in the apartment.

    大阪・平野区の母子殺害事件:死刑破棄 最高裁判決旨
    Mainichi 2010/04/27

























    02年4月14日 事件発生

        中旬 府警が階段踊り場灰皿から吸い殻採取

      11月16日 府警が森被告を逮捕

      12月7日 検察が殺人罪で森被告を起訴

        下旬 吸い殻を入れた箱の紛失が発覚

    03年3月31日 大阪地裁で初公判

      12月   弁護側が吸い殻関連の証拠開示を依頼

    04年1月   府警が大阪地検に紛失を報告


    05年8月3日 大阪地裁が無期懲役判決

    06年12月15日 大阪高裁が死刑判決

    10年4月27日 最高裁判決(地裁に審理差し戻し)

    10年7月   地検が地裁と弁護人に紛失を説明

    Prison guard to hang for slayings
    The Japan Times: Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006

    Kyodo News
    The Osaka High Court sentenced a prison guard to death Friday for killing a woman and her son and setting fire to their apartment in Osaka in 2002, nullifying a lower court-imposed life prison term.

    Takemitsu Mori, 49, has consistently pleaded innocent to charges of murder and arson since his arrest in November 2002, but presiding Judge Toshio Shima handed down capital punishment based solely on circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution.

    Mori's counsel said they plan to appeal the ruling. Judge Shima found Mori guilty of strangling Mayumi Mori, 28, drowning her son Toma, 1, in a bathtub, and setting fire to their apartment in Hirano Ward, Osaka, on April 14, 2002.
    Mori at that time was married to Mayumi's mother-in-law but later divorced.

    Shima said the three-judge court determined Mori was the culprit based on the prosecution's evidence.
    "The defendant has failed to give a reasonable explanation of his activities on the day of the crime. The chances are slim that the crime could have been committed by a third party," he said.

    In August 2005, the Osaka District Court found Mori guilty, accepting the prosecution-presented witness accounts and DNA tests on a cigarette butt found at the flat.


    Court upholds acquittal for man facing gallows for 2002 double murder in Osaka.

    MAR 2, 2017

    OSAKA – The Osaka High Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s acquittal of a man previously sentenced to death for murdering his daughter-in-law and her son before setting fire to their Osaka apartment in 2002.

    Takemitsu Mori, a 59-year-old prison guard on administrative leave, was acquitted by the Osaka District Court in March 2012 after the Supreme Court ordered a retrial, repealing the high court’s death sentence in a rare decision.

    The focus of the case was what to make of the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecutors while Mori consistently denied the charges, saying he had never entered the apartment.

    Mori did not attend the trial because retrials at higher courts do not oblige defendants to be present.

    Presiding Judge Shinichiro Fukuzaki rejected the prosecutor’s claim that Mori’s knowledge about the location of furniture in the apartment proved he had been there. The judge said the defendant could have learned the arrangement from conversations with family members after the incident.

    Mori was arrested in November 2002, seven months after Mayumi Mori, 28, and her 1-year-old son Toma were found dead in their apartment in Osaka’s Hirano Ward on April 14 that year. The woman was found strangled and her son drowned.

    In April 2010, the Supreme Court rejected both the life sentence handed down by a district court and the death penalty by a high court, declaring that the court needed to see evidence proving that only the defendant could have committed the crime.

    Following the Supreme Court ruling, the Osaka District Court found Mori not guilty, saying there was no evidence that proved he entered the apartment on the day of the incident.

    In the latest examination at the high court, a DNA analysis was conducted on a dog harness that prosecutors alleged to be the murder weapon, but no link to Mori was found.

    Prosecutors requested a review of the lower court’s acquittal as saliva found on a cigarette butt discovered in a staircase at the apartment matched Mori’s DNA and an eyewitness saw a car of the same type and color as Mori’s near the apartment.

    The defense counsel asked the court to reject the appeal, arguing that the court was presented with no credible evidence showing that the cigarette butt was discarded on the day of the incident.