Death penalty opponent gets threatening letter
Monday, July 9, 2007 at 09:00 EDT
TOKYO — A letter threatening the life of an outspoken critic of capital punishment leading the defense in a high-profile murder trial was mailed to the Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo, investigation sources said Sunday. The envelope, delivered to the newspaper Saturday, also contained a bullet, the sources said. Written on a word processor, the letter reportedly threatens to "obliterate" attorney Yoshihiro Yasuda.

Yasuda is defending a 26-year-old man who was convicted of killing a woman and her infant daughter in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in April 1999 and is now trying to avoid the death penalty. The trial has attracted broad public attention, due in part to the heinous nature of the crime but also because the convicted man was a minor and because the victim's husband has appeared in the media calling for the death penalty. The defendant strangled and raped Yayoi Motomura, 23, and then killed her 11-month-old daughter, Yuka, in their home.