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‘Black widow’ Kakehi sentenced to death

Jiji Press KYOTO (Jiji Press) — The Kyoto District Court on Tuesday sentenced a 70-year-old “black widow” to death for the murders of her husband and two common-law partners and the attempted murder-robbery of a boyfriend, by poisoning them with cyanide compounds.

The court ruled that Chisako Kakehi is guilty in all four cases, which took place in three western prefectures. All four men were aged over 70.

“Disregarding human life, Kakehi’s crimes were well-planned and malicious,” said judge Ayako Nakagawa, who presided over the lay judge trial, handing down the death sentence as demanded by public prosecutors.

The judge said that her acts were serial murders by poisoning with the aim of acquiring inheritances or escaping from debts.

The judge rejected the claim of Kakehi’s innocence by her defense team, which said that the deaths of the three men might have been due to illness or accident. The defense filed an appeal.

Due to a lack of physical evidence showing her involvement in the cases, with, for example, cyanide compounds that she is believed to have used not being identified, the focus of the trial was the court’s judgment on circumstantial evidence collected by the prosecutors.

Another focal point was whether Kakehi bears criminal responsibility, as the defense claimed that she was suffering from dementia at the time of the incidents.

Judge Nakagawa noted that cyanide was detected in one of the three murdered victims and the man who survived, and recognized that the other two died of cyanide poisoning based on their condition when they were taken to hospital by ambulance.

While dismissing the possibility of suicide, accident or the involvement of persons other than Kakehi in the cases, the judge said the accused took extraordinary acts, such as inheritance procedures, soon after the incidents.

Although she was aware of the toxicity of the cyanide compounds, she gave them to the four men by putting the substances in capsule form so that they looked like supplements, the judge said.

The judge acknowledged that Kakehi is currently suffering from mild dementia, but said she was free from the disease at the time of the crimes, as she took actions suggesting that they were well-planned.Speech

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