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Japan

Prosecutors want 70-year-old Japanese ‘black widow’ serial killer to be sentenced to death

Chisako Kakehi accused of murdering husband, two common-law partners and later trying to kill another male acquaintance by having them drink cyanide between 2007 and 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 2:46pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 9:27pm

Prosecutors requested Tuesday the death penalty for a 70-year-old woman, dubbed Japan’s “black widow”, charged with the murders of her husband and two common-law partners and the attempted murder of an acquaintance between 2007 and 2013.

Describing Chisako Kakehi’s alleged crimes as “heinous and serious incidents that are rarely seen,” the prosecutors said in their closing arguments at the Kyoto District Court that the victims – all elderly men – inadvertently drank cyanide given to them by a debt-ridden Kakehi who was endeavouring to inherit their assets.

Kakehi has become notorious because of the case, drawing comparisons with the spider that kills its mate after copulation.

The court was expected to hand down a ruling on November 7, with the defence making its closing statements on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Kakehi was mentally competent and can be held responsible for her crimes, which “were premeditated”.

Her “cognitive function has not significantly deteriorated as shown in her psychiatric evaluation,” and that she had no mental disorders at the time of the crimes, they said.

Kakehi denied the charges and pleaded not guilty.

Her defence argued that she cannot be held responsible or stand trial due to her suffering dementia, citing her incoherent statements which they said even led to her once admitting during proceedings to committing murder.

According to prosecutors, Kakehi murdered her 75-year-old husband Isao as well as common-law partners Masanori Honda, 71, and Minoru Hioki, 75, and tried to kill her acquaintance Toshiaki Suehiro, 79, by having them drink cyanide between 2007 and 2013.

In the trial held under Japan’s lay judge system, which involves citizen judges, the prosecutors had to use circumstantial evidence to argue Kakehi’s guilt amid a dearth of physical evidence.

Kakehi was first arrested in November 2014 and indicted the following month on a charge of killing Isao, who died at the couple’s home in Muko, Kyoto Prefecture, in December 2013.

They married the previous month. She was later indicted in connection with the deaths of the two other men.

Kakehi, a native of Fukuoka Prefecture, married first at the age of 24 and launched a fabric printing factory in Osaka Prefecture with her first husband. But following his death in around 1994, the factory went bankrupt and her house was put up for auction, forcing her to ask neighbours for a loan.

She later registered with a matchmaking service, specifically asking to meet wealthy men with an annual income of more than 10 million yen.

She was romantically involved with or associated with more than 10 men, enabling her to inherit an estimated 1 billion yen (US$8.8 million) but later fell into debt following her attempts to speculate in stocks and futures trading.