crime

Court commutes death sentence to life in prison for man who killed 2 people in hit-and-run

31 Comments

The Sendai High Court in Miyagi Prefecture has overturned a 2021 lower court ruling by the Koriyama branch of the Fukushima District Court that sentenced a 51 year-old man to death for the hit-and-run deaths of two people in Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture, in 2020.

The court commuted the sentence of Yoshitaka Morito, now 53, to life in prison, Kyodo News reported. Morito’s lawyer had appealed the death sentence, saying it could not be proven that there was clear intent to kill. The court agreed with the defense team’s argument.

Morito was driving a small truck he had stolen, when he hit and killed a 51-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman as they were cutting grass along the side of National Route 288 at around 7:55 a.m. on May 31, 2020. After hitting the couple, Morito kept going.

Another worker witnessed the incident and called 110. Morito, who did not have a license to drive a truck, was found four hours later about 20 kilometers away parked on a road in Sukagawa City.

Prosecutors argued that Morito ran the couple down deliberately, while his lawyer said it was an accident and he kept going because he panicked.

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31 Comments
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If the intent to kill was not proven, then I also agree.

I agree with the death penalty for cases like Tsutomu Miyazaki, or the Akihabara rampage killer. People who will never be able to be rehabilitated and whose crimes are heinous.

That said, I don't agree with lengthy processes which do end up in a cruel mental torture for the death row inmate.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Do they have parole in Japan? If so, I hope the life sentence is specifically without any chance of parole.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Hokkaidoboy...

That said, I don't agree with lengthy processes which do end up in a cruel mental torture for the death row inmate.

How about the mental torment the victims friends and family have to endure. Japan's death sentence carried out without notice is perfect. The victims didn't get a warning... Why should the murderer?

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Good result. But he needs to do hard labor to pay back society

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

How about the mental torment the victims friends and family have to endure. Japan's death sentence carried out without notice is perfect. The victims didn't get a warning... Why should the murderer?

Because we don't lower the standards of civil society to that of murderers to satisfy our lust for vengeance.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Good result. But he needs to do hard labor to pay back society

I don't think that hard labor necessarily pays back society. I understand hard labor as a form of punishment for convicts is why slavery is still allowed under the US constitution under special circumstances.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Isn't a life sentence applicable to murderers?

It can also apply to other crimes, presumably.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A good legal decision.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

"And it's an inadequate argument to say that capital punishment isn't a deterrent."

It's not inadequate. Study after study has shown that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. In fact, in many jurisdictions, crime has gone down after CP was abolished in favour of life sentences. Canada is a good example. "In 2003 in Canada, 27 years after the country abolished the death penalty the murder rate had fallen by 44 per cent since 1975, when capital punishment was still enforced." (Amnesty International). You need to do some research, rather than imposing your own "logic."

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Death penalty seems to be a pretty good deterent in Adian countries. Far less violent crime than western countries where animals get a light sentence, go to prison to be further hardened into crime, come out and commit more. US has the most incarceration among the OECD countries but violent crime is still the highest. While Japan is the safest. Westerners need to fix their society before criticizing others.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Another worker witnessed the incident and called 110. Morito, who did not have a license to drive a truck, was found four hours later about 20 kilometers away parked on a road in Sukagawa City.

According to the article, he was driving a small truck that he had stolen. You only need a regular license to drive small trucks so I guess he was unlicensed, but it is of no real consequence. All that has nothing to do with him killing 2 people but I wonder why they felt the need to include it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Morito was driving a small truck he had stolen, when he hit and killed a 51-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman as they were cutting grass along the side of National Route 288 at around 7:55 a.m. on May 31, 2020. After hitting the couple, Morito kept going.

I object to my hard earned tax being spent to keep pond scum like this fed, clothed and sheltered. Let him swing.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Fact checker....

But what if it hurts his feelings? He may have had "issues"... We don't know "what he was going through"...

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Yes, not intend to kill, but the death penalty was too hard. Long life was the best sentence for him.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Mr. MidnightToday  07:10 pm JST

Death penalty seems to be a pretty good deterent in Adian countries. Far less violent crime than western countries where animals get a light sentence, go to prison to be further hardened into crime, come out and commit more. US has the most incarceration among the OECD countries but violent crime is still the highest. While Japan is the safest.

Considering the high suicide rate in this and other "Asian countries", and the manic nature of a lot of these crimes, I doubt that the death penalty is the deterrent you believe it to be. In this country, I would suggest that shame is a far more powerful implement of control.

Westerners need to fix their society before criticizing others.

Whataboutism is a much better way to stop a conversation than solve a problem.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Death Sentence for a Hit and Run???

That was an OVERKILL, glad the defense appealed.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Yikes, death sentence seems completely overkill… even if it could be proven in the moment that he had every intention of killing the victims, it’s still probably not premeditated or among the most abhorrent forms/scales of murder

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The death sentence is NOT a deterrent but IS a very fitting punishment for some crimes.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

WOW. So many for the death penalty!

I'd hate to be the innocent guy on death row in Japan. I wonder how many innocent people have been executed? or How many have spent 40 odd years in jail, just to be found innocent? Of course its only for the most heinous crimes, and the ones that are 100% without a doubt guilty, which ironically is them all. Until there are the few who are found to be innocent. but that was maybe years and years in the FUTURE after sentencing. I guess it's easy just just decide, with no real personal consequences.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I'd hate to be the innocent guy on death row in Japan.

Which is the problem with the death penalty. People are not supposed to be convicted without their guilt being beyond a reasonable doubt, so every death row victim is definitely guilty... except for the ones we realize later or not. How do you deal with that when you've already executed them?

If humans weren't fallible, I'd be ok with the death penalty. I have no moral objection to murdering a murderer. But humans make mistakes and sometimes convict innocent men, and executing them would be more egregious that murders done by the public - these are the people supposed to protect us.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

"Do they have parole in Japan? If so, I hope the life sentence is specifically without any chance of parole."

Six people have downvoted this comment up until now. That means at least six people feel that he should be eligible for parole, after being found guilty of such a heinous act. Wild.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

“Hang ‘‘em High” if you’re negligent enough, you ought to Pay the Piper and accept your punishment

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

You just never know what mood your judge is in during sentencing, LOL

In this case the first judge must have had a bad morning, or got off the wrong side of the bed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I thought this was an egregious crime at the time. I still do.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If there was no clear intent to kill, then why are they giving him a life sentence?

Because of the aggravating circumstances. This was no traffic accident either, the guy stole a truck, drove it without license, hit two persons, drove ahead without checking on their conditions, was probably drunk or on drugs.

All of this adds up, you know. This was not someone accidentally killing somebody else but doing everything else correctly. In such a case the sentences are quite lite.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I remember the trial and it was proven to be obvious that he left the road to hit them. DP was clearly appropriate.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

OK, live in jail forever and pay for your killings..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Random - I remember the trial and it was proven to be obvious that he left the road to hit them. DP was clearly appropriate.

I think there's a pretty good chance he'll be subjected to "DP" while in prison.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mr. Midnight

Death penalty seems to be a pretty good deterent in Adian countries. Far less violent crime than western countries where animals get a light sentence, go to prison to be further hardened into crime, come out and commit more.

Non sequitur. There are many other factors than just the deterrent of a death penalty. E.g. Norway has also a low crime rate, and a ridiculously lenient legal system, which makes punishment almost look like an extended vacation, even for extremely hard crimes, up to mass murder. It is tempting to imagine simplistic correlations, but the world is more complex than that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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