“The ruthless crime of murder is extremely serious, and in this case it was repeated,” presiding judge Kazuyuki Okuma said in handing down the sentence. “The loss of three precious lives does not allow for serious consideration of another option.”
All told, the lay judge trial ruled Kijima to be guilty on ten counts, with fraud and theft also included.
Kijima met multiple men through matchmaking sites and quickly engaged in relationships not long before they died under suspicious circumstances.
The body of Yoshiyuki Oide, a 41-year-old company employee from Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, and a charcoal burner were discovered inside a rented car in Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture on August 6, 2009. Investigators found that he had been defrauded by Kijima for roughly 5 million yen. An autopsy revealed that he had died of carbon-monoxide poisoning and that his body contained the remains of sleeping pills. The 37-year-old Kijima was seen with him the day before his corpse was located.
Kijima also faced murder charges for the death of Takao Terada, a 53-year-old from Tokyo, and 80-year-old Kenzo Ando, a resident of Noda, Chiba Prefecture, who perished in a house fire.
All three of the victims died due to carbon-monoxide poisoning, with two containing sleep-inducing drugs in their systems.
“In order to live a luxurious lifestyle, she received money through deception, and then she ended the relationships with murder,” Okuma is quoted as saying. The defense countered by arguing that the deaths were due to suicide provoked by her threats to leave the men or accidental in nature, such as in the house fire.
The citizen judges served for 100 days — the longest period since the system began in 2009. The judges relied on circumstantial evidence only, as confessions and direct evidence were not available.