HIROSHIMA (TR) – A court here earlier this month handed a 36-year-old man a life-in-prison term over the fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old high school girl in her residence in Hatsukaichi City more than one decade ago, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 18).
At the Hiroshima District Court on March 18, presiding judge Hisanori Sugimoto said that Manabu Kashima, a resident of Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, “acted out of extreme selfishness” in the killing of Satomi Kitaguchi on October 5, 2004.
“[It was a crime] that was the result of an outburst of anger after a rape [of the girl] failed,” the judge said.
The prosecution had sought the same life-in-prison term.
According to the ruling, Kashima followed Kitaguchi home to sexually assault her. He entered the residence at around 3:00 p.m. and moved up to the second floor where she was lying on her bed.
The suspect then stabbed her in about 10 locations, including the chest, back and neck. Her body was later found collapsed on a stairway in the residence.
Kashima also stabbed Kitaguchi’s grandmother four times in the back. The woman suffered serious injuries that required 1 month to heal. Kitaguchi’s younger sister, then a sixth-year elementary school student, took shelter at a nearby florist.
After the incident, Kashima remained on the run until 2018. Prior to his arrest, police used the results of a DNA analysis of evidence found at the scene and fingerprints to identify Kitaguchi as a suspect.
During an investigation of Kashima over a separate incident in Yamaguchi, police linked the evidence from the Hatsukaichi residence to the suspect.
The National Police Agency had sought help from the public in the case, offering a reward of 3 million yen for information.
“Wish for a strict ruling”
During the trial, the defense claimed that the crime had not been planned. “It was a spontaneous crime that was the result of accumulated work stress,” the defense said.
Judge Sugimoto did not acknowledge the claim. “In remaining on the run for an extended period, there was significant impact on the bereaved family and the local community,” the judge said.
Kitaguchi’s father submitted a statement to the court during the trial. “I want you to understand that my daughter’s life was snatched away,” he said. “I strongly wish for a strict ruling.”