A man who murdered his former girlfriend after stalking her in Tokyo's Mitaka area last October was sentenced to 22 years in prison by the Tokyo District Court on Friday.
Charles Thomas Ikenaga, 22, who is from Kyoto, had pleaded guilty to the murder of Saaya Suzuki, 18, whom he met on Facebook in July 2011. About five months later, Suzuki indicated she wanted to end their relationship.
In handing down the ruling, the presiding judge of the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court said that the murder had been premeditated and that Ikenaga had sent death threats to Suzuki, NTV reported.
The court heard that a search of Ikenaga's home later revealed a computer file in which he had written a checklist and travel budget for the murder. The file listed items such as "knife", "gloves", "rope" and "bag." Prosecutors said the file also included a series of calculations thought to represent an itemised budget for the murder, including travel costs from Ikenaga's hometown of Kyoto to Tokyo, where the murder took place. The file was created on Sept 20 and last updated on Sept 27.
The court heard that Suzuki first asked her school principal for advice on Oct 4 after she received email death threats from Ikenaga. The principal advised her to contact the police. Suzuki and her parents visited police at around 9 a.m. on Tuesday Oct 8 to report that Ikenaga had loitered outside their home several times and turned up at places where she used to go, after she started blocking his emails and phone calls on her cell phone in June.
The police officer who spoke with them called Ikenaga’s cell phone three times Tuesday, but his calls were not answered. It was later learned that the cell phone number police called three times that day to warn Ikenaga was not Ikenaga's phone, but a friend's phone which he had borrowed for a time after Suzuki blocked his calls. The friend told police he did not answer the calls because he did not recognize the number.
On the same day that Suzuki and her parents consulted police, Ikenaga said that he climbed up the outside of Suzuki's house and hid in a downstairs closet for about two hours. Suzuki returned home at around 4:30 p.m., at which time a police officer called her to see if she had got home safely. She said she was OK and they spoke for about 20 minutes.
Ikenaga told police he emerged from the closet after the phone call and stabbed Suzuki twice in the stomach and arm near the front door. When Suzuki ran outside, Ikenaga chased her and jumped on top of her, stabbing her in the neck. A witness saw him flee the scene.
Suzuki was taken to hospital where she died a short time later due to loss of blood. Ikenaga was arrested nearby 90 minutes later. He admitted buying a knife with the intention of killing Suzuki because she wouldn't get back together with him, police said.
After the crime, police came in for heavy criticism for their handling of the case. Police said that when Suzuki and her parents visited them on the morning of her murder, it was the first time they had been consulted.
Under the new stalking law, police have to first give an oral warning to stalkers, then a written warning if they do not stop. Police said the officer who made the three calls to Ikenaga's cell phone did so because Ikenaga had no fixed address in Tokyo and there was no way to know where he was at that time.
Police also asked Suzuki to bring copies of emails that Ikenaga had sent her so they could prepare to file a criminal complaint if he did not stop stalking her.
However, the time between Suzuki's visit to the police on the Tuesday morning and her death in the afternoon was too short for authorities to do anything, police said.© Japan Today