crime

Death sentence upheld for former bar hostess who killed 2 men

51 Comments

The Hiroshima High Court has upheld a death sentence handed down in December 2012 for a former bar hostess convicted for murdering two men in Tottori Prefecture in 2009.

The Tottori District Court had sentenced Miyuki Ueta, 40, to death for murdering Kazumi Yabe, 47, a truck driver, and Hideki Maruyama, 57, a store owner, NTV reported. Ueta owed both men money, the court heard. Yabe drowned in the sea, while Maruyama met a similar fate in a river. Autopsies revealed that both men had been drugged before they went into the water.

A panel of six lay judges handed down the guilty ruling in the 75-day trial.

Lawyers for Ueta, who admitted to defrauding the two men but denied killing them, appeal the ruling, claiming the prosecution's case was based solely on circumstantial evidence, NTV reported.

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51 Comments
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In cases where the "fact of murder" is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt like in this case; I'm against the capital punishment. Convict her of fraud, take time to investigate the deaths.

10 ( +17 / -6 )

When killing is an option for the state, it justifies killing as an option for everyone else. Killing is wrong, and the state should lead by example.

-1 ( +14 / -14 )

It should be of some concern to us all that the (relatively new to Japan) lay judges trial system arrives at a guilty verdict in a case where the evidence is only circumstantial.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

she still denies it ... That takes a lot, when you are being interrogated by cops and prison guards on an almost daily basis.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Prosecutors investigagate. Not prison guards. Some states in USA do not have death sentence. And death sentences are not hanging. Lethal injection. Cops arrest but they can not interrogate in interrogation room, Just prosecuting attorneys. Well, cops and guards are not lawyers. If they do, cases get upside down.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

99.9% conviction rate. The prosecutors won't quit unless they can win so that they can "restore their honor", even by fabrication. There have been many mistakes in the past that ended in death penalty or life imprisonment. Why continue this madness...

0 ( +7 / -7 )

If there are too many circumstantials, it becomes obvious. Justice has to be done for the victims.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

The system here is a bit crazy. The police -- who rely too much on their "gut feelings" that you are acting in a manner they deem to be suspicious -- expect you to come clean and confess, to save them the extra work of having to prove the charges. But if you don't confess, then heaven help you, because in their eyes you are "unrepentant" or "incorrigible," and therefore all the more deserving of the death penalty.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@tinawatanabe: Lawyers for Ueta, who admitted to defrauding the two men but denied killing them, appeal the ruling, claiming the prosecution’s case was based solely on circumstantial evidence, NTV reported.

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You are right, It does not mention everything but fingerorints, are usually used. Also, other proofs are used. Nowadays video cameras can be used. If the prosecutors lose on high court, they can not appeal to higher court because th high court is the end. This is the end for her. We don;t know how they were killed before wen to water, but prosecutors usually get trace of murders;s finfers and hand, then footprints on the ground and trace of how she poured dead bi=ody and many proofs. then jurors discuss on only proofs, no guess or ideas. Prosecutors dp not decide final verdicts. You are right,

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Our society by having a death penalty instills the belief that there can be justification for killing someone, when in fact there is none. Japan should reject the noose.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

justice for the victims and their families isn't related to giving the death penalty?

Yes. If you kill a person, you have to be hanged. It sounds like a nice person to go aginst death penalty but I wonder those people have bothered to talk to a victim family.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Tina.

How come soo many families of victims are against the death penalty. Also many families felt they never got any closure, etc from the execution.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@karrycaht: I live in Nevada and Utah is neightbior of our state. ///////Our state does nol t hang. Lethal Injection. Clark County court recently gave a verdict of death sentence to one guy who kiilled another guy who was chabing a flat tire on Free way. He is appealing. None of my children are criminal attorney but some of their friends are so we are familiar of NV criminal laws, This woman's trial, the coroner found drugs in victims and I am sure her house was researcxhed for drugs, etc. Again NV does not hang. We have several death penalty beside LV cops just killed one suspect a couple days ago. Visti Las Vegas for one week. You will read death penalty stories on LV Review Journal. Also, visti one of Mob Museum to meet fomer Mob Attorney. He likes to talk, Now back to Japan, Japan was accused its death penakty as too cruel by UN. Hanging, that is why. There is no decapitation in Nevada, It is easier to use lethal injection.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Readers, other countries are not relevant to this discussion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How come soo many families of victims are against the death penalty. Also many families felt they never got any closure, etc from the execution

I know some victim families feel that way, but not majority is it? And we can never ask victims themselves. What do you want if you become a victim in heaven?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

You only need to one single instance of someone being hanged who was ultimately innocent, to blow the whole argument of capital punishment out of the water. A barbaric third world ritual.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Stewie.

I agree it is outdated and barbaric thinking, as a Buddhist I could never support it. Strange how many countries in the last 100yrs have abolished it and victims families in those are happy.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I don't think nowadays innocent death rows are being hanged. Nobody enjoys doing it. It's a sad reality that some criminals are so rotten and threats to society.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I don't think nowadays innocent death rows are being hanged.

How do you know?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

How do you know?

There are more than 100 death rows, and Justice minister picks ones who s/he is certain with.

A barbaric third world ritual

That's the point of punishment. There're many cases in which convicts on parole commit another killing. Do you rather have that?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

@tinawatanabe

If there are too many circumstantials, it becomes obvious.

Hi Tina

I'm not piling on you here and just to get back to the article about the verdict and away from the death penalty discussion for a sec:

circumstantial evidence is evidence that (by its nature) is not obvious.

If the defendant denies she killed anyone and the evidence is not strong enough to prove it then she shouldn't be getting any kind of guilty verdict for murder . The reason being that this sets the example in law that courts don't need to prove you're guilty of something you've been accused of. (and that's a scary prospect if you ask me)

It doesn't matter if you and I think she's guilty, the trial has to prove that she is.

Having said all that... that the guilty verdict was permitted and that the article mentions that it's HER lawyers who are claiming the evidence is only circumstantial makes me think that there may well be some other evidence that wasn't reported in the article that makes the verdict permissible.

I certainly hope that's the case.

Justice has to be done for the victims.

Justice is another discussion entirely, I'm afraid the nearest we get to justice is law, which makes it all the more important that we make sure that criminal charges are proven in court.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

While I'm normally a fan of hard evidence I think that in cases like this, where poison is used, circumstantial evidence might be enough. For example, if they could show that she had motive (the money she owed), had opportunity (having served the men food or drink before they went into the water - and having access to the the drugs used), then I don't think that they necessarily need to find the bottle of pills with her fingerprints on them or a video of her actually doing it. Having a solid motive, access to the drugs and in a position to use them would be enough for most reasonable people to conclude that there's very little doubt that she did it.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

@frungy

Very fair and well-made point

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"The death penalty needs to be abolished"

Could you pay for the murderers' food, housing, clothing, medical care, etc, then? Thanks.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Has anyone seen a picture of this trunter? Just thinking what those men must have gone through. Utterly desperate.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I'm not going to join in the Pro/con death penalty part. My only concern is this "circumstantial" evidence instead of concrete, factual, beyond a shadow of a doubt evidence that solidly implicates the person being accused. Without that a death penalty should not be on the table.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

in the court, cops who arrested ate called as prosecution witnesses. /cops usually had search warrents inside and around her house. /////the report from coroner's office, etc will be presented. And presiding judge will decide motion by each side. Motion granted and notion denied you hear in courr. bottom of her shoes, including dirt and sands in this case are analyzed beside dirt and/or sands where she drugged to dump the dead bodies. It takes time ti give verdict, .......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, death sentences require lengthy court proceedings which get expensive.

Argus Tuft/HonestDictator When circumstancial evidence is overwhelming, it would be remiss not to give guilty verdict.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"in this country there are death row inmates who have been there for more than four decades."

The problem is they shouldn't be there more than 4 days after they've been convicted. And I will say that the conviction must be only after there is irrefutable evidence of guilt in the case of the death penalty.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There have been many studies showing the cost of keeping an inmate on death row is more expensive than when a prisoner is in the ordinary prison population and in this country there are death row inmates who have been there for more than four decades.

Death row is not the cheap option some would believe.

Have any of these studies ever even done in regards to the Japanese system? I have to wonder if they are relevant or not. I could see the overall process being cheaper in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The argument for death row inmates costing more than life sentence inmates is that the cost of all the appeals and defendes ends up costing more than imprisoning them for life.

The cost of imprisoninf inmates in Japan will be different than in say America, as will the number and cost of appeals. So the research cannot be applied as a blanket to all countries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There have been many studies showing the cost of keeping an inmate on death row is more expensive than when a prisoner is in the ordinary prison population and in this country there are death row inmates who have been there for more than four decades.

I have heard that too Zichi, but I have never actually figured out how that is the case. Common sense to me says that keeping someone in food/medical/clothing etc for life without parole, versus death penalty after 3 years (for example) is surely going to be more expensive (lets say they were 35 when they committed the crime, not 95!). Do you know why it is so much more expensive to put someone to death?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

NathalieBMar. 23, 2014 - 01:33AM JST I have heard that too Zichi, but I have never actually figured out how that is the case. Common sense to me says that keeping someone in food/medical/clothing etc for life without parole, versus death penalty after 3 years (for example) is surely going to be more expensive (lets say they were 35 when they committed the crime, not 95!). Do you know why it is so much more expensive to put someone to death?

Actually it is quite explicable when one considers the difference. Let's take two hypothetical prisoners. One is sentenced for 20 years (a life sentence) and the other is sentenced to death and spends the average time on death row before eventual execution - in Japan this is about 7 years on average, but recently has been longer because of the reluctance of some justice ministers to sign the execution orders.

Accommodation - Normal inmates are in communal cells, whereas death row prisoners are kept in solitary. This may not seem like a big deal, but it does add to costs as this means separate facilities, more square footage per prisoner and of course the construction and maintenance costs for those additional cells.

Staff - Regular prisoners are easier to oversee, their cells are closer together, they take part in activities together and can be let out in entire blocks at the same time. Death row prisoners have to be supervised individually, let out individually, and generally need a full-time staff of their own as many are on 24 hour suicide watch, sometimes for years.

Appeals - Judges tend to be more careful with death row cases and are aware that not hearing a borderline appeal might result in a lot of negative press, so often these cases end up wasting a disproportionate amount of court time. Japan is unusual in that prisoners are often executed with appeals still pending, which some have suggested is the Ministry of Justice's reaction when it looks like they've messed up and a death row prisoner might go free. I'm not sure I agree, but it suspicious that Japan executes prisoners when sufficient doubt remains in a judge's mind to allow an appeal, so there are two sides to this particular coin.

Of course there's also the actual execution chamber, the space and equipment used, as well as the special staff required. It all adds up. It is not hard to see how 7 years on death row can add up to more than the cost of 20 years in general population quite easily.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I learned two things today, why deathrow costs more than regular, and Japan has the death penalty.

Oh, and how, hanging. I learned three things.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Let's take two hypothetical prisoners. One is sentenced for 20 years (a life sentence) and the other is sentenced to death and spends the average time on death row before eventual execution - in Japan this is about 7 years on average, but recently has been longer because of the reluctance of some justice ministers to sign the execution orders.

Is a life sentence in Japan 20 years? I've tried to find documentation in the past on whether a life sentence truly is life, or just a lengthy period of time, but was unsuccessful. Do you have any links?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

StrangerlandMar. 23, 2014 - 09:20AM JST Is a life sentence in Japan 20 years? I've tried to find documentation in the past on whether a life sentence truly is life, or just a lengthy period of time, but was unsuccessful. Do you have any links?

Nope, 20 years isn't a life sentence, I phrased that badly. 20 years is the average amount of time served, just like 7 years is the average time on death row. A life sentence (with option of parole) in Japan means that they have to serve 10 years before they're eligible for consideration for parole. On average people serve another 10 years before they're paroled, but some people die in prison before that, and others have served 35 or more years. A decision was recently made to cap life sentences at 30 years. (Source: http://www.moj.go.jp/hogo1/soumu/hogo_hogo21.html)

I hope that clarifies things.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

It does - thanks for the link as well.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The Hiroshima High Court confirms the findings of a seventy-five day trial. These murders were connected by a factual recounting of motive, opportunity and method. The facts must have been reviewed and found compelling. More so, the High Court knew they were reviewing the matter with the death penalty as a possible outcome. There can be little doubt that the evidence was conclusive.

Although no information is available here to second guess the court's determination, the idea of the death penalty for a woman must have been a powerful motive to assure an exacting analysis of the facts in evidence.

Analysis of Ueta's actions certainly included factual support of the motive and methods in both murders. It is particularly disturbing that Ueta acted solely to avoid repayment of loans from her victims. The nature of Ueta's crimes seems to indicate not only premeditation but most petty justification on her part, money.

In the final analysis, Ueta had no real reason to kill. Had she simply ignored her debts little consequence beyond a repayment schedule might have been ordered but more likely no consequence what so ever. For that reason alone Ueta's crimes are particularly heinous. The evil nature of these murders, drugging and drowning twice, reveal an inner monster that cannot be understood except as a character from a screenplay.

Whether the death penalty provides any societal benefit is really at issue here. Ueta's death will not restore these men or heal their families' suffering. The death penalty then is as senseless as her crimes.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yes. If you kill a person, you have to be hanged. It sounds like a nice person to go aginst death penalty but I wonder those people have bothered to talk to a victim family.

Sorry, nobody here cares about the victims family as nobody here has ever had a family member murdered before. You kill someone, you should get a firm spanking and let go. 2 men that she defrauded both died by drowning after being drugged. This is a common way for people to die so there is no doubt that she is innocent.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Zichi,

In addition, according to the Ministry of Justice, the average time served for a life sentence between 2003 and 2012 was about 30 years, not 20 years.

http://www.moj.go.jp/content/000114951.pdf

0 ( +1 / -1 )

zichiMar. 23, 2014 - 11:08AM JST Frungy Except the appeals system here takes more than 10 years and often more than 20 years.

Yes. As I noted, people are often executed just before their appeal is finalised, and it has been suggested that the MoJ would rather execute an innocent man than deal with the possibility that they initially made a mistake.

The longest serving inmate on death row is more than 40 years who is now believed insane so technically they shouldn't execute him?

Japan has no such clause.

There are others with long detentions who have also gone insane. Its not only the death penalty which is wrong but also the cruel and unnecessary punishment inflicted on death row inmates. I know many will say they showed no mercy for their victims, which is true too, but two wrongs don't make a right and the state should not behave like the death row inmates did.

This is where I beg to disagree. Long-term imprisonment is cruel and unnecessary. Even fifty years ago the psychiatric profession regarded schizophrenics as long-term risks to themselves and others, and basically locked them away for life. Now we know that, with proper medication, actually all the schizophrenics need is about a week or two in an institute to stabilise them and give the meds time to start working, then they can be dealt with on an outpatient basis. Almost every other human profession has moved on and advanced in the last century ... except law and the justice system, which seems to be stuck in the last century. Statistics on recidivism show that imprisonment without an integrated rehabilitation plan just doesn't work. Canada has been doing great things... and no-one shows the least interest in copying them.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

@Frungy

Exactly. Sweden, with their enlightened attitude towards criminals (which is dubbed 'soft' by rightists) are closing their prisons one by one due to a lack of 'customers'.

The UK, for example, on the other hand, can't build new ones fast enough.

You have to wonder why....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More proof Japan is still in the dark ages heh.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

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