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Hyogo: Court does not recognize murder in death of hostess

HYOGO (TR) – A court here handed ruled that a 21-year-old man was not guilty of murder in the death of a woman whose body was found dumped at a dam in Kakogawa City last year, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Dec. 11)

At the Kobe District Court on Wednesday, presiding judge Kentaro Iijima ruled that Shoma Mori, 21, did not have “murderous intent” in the killing of 20-year-old Yuka Konishi, a resident of Yodogawa Ward, Osaka City.

The court handed Iijima a 7-year prison term. The prosecution had sought a 20-year term.

A male fisherman found the body of Konishi at Gongen Dam on the morning of August 11, 2018. The plastic case, found floating several meters off shore, was bound with a rope and tied to two sand bags.

With marks consistent with strangulation found on her neck, the cause of death was suffocation. She is believed to have died the day before the discovery, police said previously.

Yuka Konishi
Yuka Konishi

No recollection of strangling the victim

During the trial, the prosecution claimed that Mori exhibited “murderous intent in using considerable power to strangle” Konishi. However, the defense argued that the defendant did not remember strangling the victim, while adding that the case should be treated as “inflicting bodily injury resulting in death.”

In handing down the ruling, judge Iijima recognized that Mori strangled Konichi but added that he “may not have perceived that there was a high risk of death.”

Earlier this year, the same court handed Kazuhiko Inaoka an 18-month prison term, suspended for three years, for abandoning the body of Konishi two days before the discovery. During that trial, the defense claimed that Inaoka was not aware that a corpse was inside the garment case.

Kazuhiko Inaoka
Kazuhiko Inaoka

Osaka hostess

Konishi lived in Osaka City alone after moving from Mie Prefecture. She worked at a kyabakura (hostess club) in the Juso area of Osaka before moving to a high-end establishment in Umeda.

Based on the investigation, police believed that Mori killed Konishi. An examination of surveillance camera footage showed Konishi walking with Mori through a business district in Osaka’s Kita Ward at around 7:30 a.m. on August 9.

The pair then entered a taxi, traveling about 4.7 kilometers to Mori’s residence in Nishi Ward, police said previously. Surveillance camera footage showed Konishi entering Mori’s fourth-floor residence. However, she is not seen leaving.

Given that bruises were found on Konishi’s face, police suspected Mori beat and fatally strangled her. Inaoka and Mori are then believed to have carried Konishi’s body down an emergency staircase and loaded it into a rented vehicle.