The Supreme Court has upheld a 2017 ruling by the Osaka High Court that commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment for a man who stabbed two people to death on an Osaka street in 2012.
In the first trial of Kyozo Isohi, now 44, that concluded in June 2015, the death sentence was handed down by six lay and three professional judges.
Isohi stabbed Shingo Minamino, a 42-year-old man from Tokyo, and a 66-year-old local woman, Toshi Sasaki, in Osaka's Higashi-Shinsaibashi area, on June 10, 2012. Isohi stabbed Minamino first, then ran about 40 meters and stabbed Sasaki. He went back to the fallen Minamino and stabbed him again.
Lawyers for Isohi argued that he had said he had been having auditory hallucinations with a voice telling him to "stab" people. After his arrest, he underwent two psychiatric evaluations and was judged mentally competent to stand trial.
He had been released from a prison in Niigata Prefecture two weeks before the attacks after serving time for assault and possession of stimulants. After his arrest for the Osaka killings, he was quoted as telling police during his interrogation that he was frustrated at having no home and no job prospects, and that he didn't want to live anymore. He said he chose his victims that day on impulse and at random. He said he wanted to kill anyone so he would be sentenced to death.
The only remarks Isohi made during his trial were at the opening session when he said he knew he can't undo what he has done and that no matter how many times he apologizes, he understands that the families of the victims will never forgive him.
The case gained extra notoriety when then Osaka Gov Ichiro Matsui said at a press conference shortly after Isohi's arrest that if he wanted to die, there were many ways he could have done it away from the spotlight, and that he did not have to take other people's lives.
In commuting the death sentence in 2017, Osaka High Court Presiding Judge Hiroyuki Nakagawa said there was no way to gauge what effects Isohi's auditory hallucinations had on his actions. The judge also said that the murders were not planned in advance, which made the crimes different from other cases of random killings that resulted in the death penalty being handed down.© Japan Today