For the first time in Japanese history, a high court has overturned a decision by professional and lay judges by commuting a man’s sentence from the death penalty to life in prison. 62 year old Kazuo Ino was sentenced to death for murdering a 74 year old man in the course of a robbery, after serving a 20 year sentence for murdering his family.
The Tokyo District Court, composed of a panel of three professional and six citizen judges, handed down the sentence in March 2011. But in the new ruling by the Tokyo High Court, presiding Judge Hitoshi Murase said that the court should not have taken into a lot of consideration his previous crime. He reviewed previous cases when the criminal record of the defendant was given importance and saw that most of them had committed similar crimes when they were out on parole. But in this case, Murase said that the two crimes committed by Ino had no connection to each other whatsoever.
Ino was sentenced in 1989 for killing his wife, then 36 years old, in Chiba after a quarrel, then set fire to their house, killing their 3 year old daughter. He served a 20 year sentence, and six months after he got out, he broke into the apartment of 74-year-old Nobuji Igarashi in Tokyo’s Minamiaoyama district in November 2009, with the intention of robbing him. He stabbed Igarashi in the neck with a kitchen knife. He was found guilty by both the lower and high courts. But despite the new ruling on his sentence, his defense counsel is appealing to the Supreme Court, noting that the defendant pleaded not guilty to the crime.
[ via Mainichi ]