The Fukuoka District Court on Friday sentenced a 41-year-old former policeman to death for killing his 38-year-old wife, nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter in Ogori in 2017.
According to the ruling at the lay judge trial, Mitsuru Nakata, a former sergeant with the Fukuoka police, strangled his wife Yukiko shortly after midnight on June 5, 2017. He also strangled their son Ryosuke and daughter Miyu.
Nakata pleaded not guilty after his arrest and maintained his innocence during the trial.
Nakata, who worked for the prefectural police's communications dispatch division, was arrested on June 8, 2017, after the police recovered his DNA under one of his wife's fingernails, suggesting she scratched him in a struggle. Nakata also had an injury to his arm which prosecutors argued was caused by his wife trying to defend herself.
Nakata claimed that he left for work early on June 6 and that someone else must have entered the house.
Prosecutors said the couple's strained relationship as the defendant's motive, and said the possibility of an intruder could be ruled out based on police investigations and evidence including security camera footage near their home, Kyodo News reported.
The victims' bodies were found after the wife's sister visited their home. The sister found the wife lying face up in the kitchen on the first floor, while the two children were found dead in their bedroom on the second floor.© Japan Today/Kyodo