An Okayama district court sentenced 30-year old Koichi Sumida to death for killing a 27-year old woman in September 2011. This is the first death sentence in which there was only one victim and the accused has no previously recorded crimes. Sumida’s lawyer immediately filed an appeal on the same day.
Sumida was charged with the crimes of robbery, rape, murder and damaging and abandoning a body. He had previously admitted to committing the crimes and said that he felt no pity for his victim. In a most recent hearing, however, he was in tears as he sought for the forgiveness of the victim’s family. The ruling confirmed that his victim, Misa Kato, was in fact a colleague. He robbed her first prior to sexually assaulting her and stabbing her to death. He then dismembered her body and abandoned it in Osaka.
Sumida is the 16th recipient of a death penalty from a judging panel which included private citizens—a system introduced in May 2009. Judge Morioka, who presided over the panel of professional and lay judges hearing the case, highlighted that the motive was to “work off sexual frustration” and “there is little likelihood of rehabilitation.” He said Sumida’s lack of criminal record was an inappropriate consideration to lessen the penalty where “the defendant’s inclination toward committing a crime cannot be ruled out.”