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Thursday, Nov. 10, 2005

Teen admits in court to slaying parents, arson


Staff writer

A 16-year old boy pleaded guilty in court Wednesday to murdering his parents and blowing up their apartment in June with an explosive device.

Prosecutors told the Tokyo District Court that the boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, repeatedly struck his 44-year-old father in the head with a dumbbell and stabbed him in the neck with a knife. They said his 42-year-old mother was stabbed more than 40 times.

After the two murders, prosecutors alleged the teen, who was 15 at the time, triggered an explosion in the family's apartment by cutting the gas line in the kitchen and rigging the electric stove with a timer.

The case first went to the Tokyo Family Court because the youth is a minor, but the court ruled in August that he should face criminal charges.

It is rare for a minor to stand criminal trial, and at Wednesday's opening session, the court protected his privacy by seating him before the public entered the courtroom.

Throughout the session, the boy faced the judges, keeping his back to the gallery. His personal information, including name and address, was not disclosed in court.

The boy pleaded guilty to all the charges made by the prosecutors and expressed regret over the murders.

"I should have been thanking my parents for raising me for 16 years," he said. "Instead, I returned evil for good."

The family lived in a ground-floor apartment in a construction company's employee housing in Tokyo's Itabashi Ward, where the boy's parents were custodians.

Prosecutors told the court the boy's motive for the murders was anger at his father, who forced him to help with the daily custodial work and complained about the boy playing video games.

The teen murdered his mother because he would have felt sorry for her if she had been left a widow, prosecutors alleged.

The boy's lawyers said they will not contest the charges, but will argue for the case to be sent back to family court, saying the teen should not be standing criminal trial.

His counsel said that various factors, including the family's domestic problems and their effects on the boy's growth and mental state, must be taken into consideration.

The lawyers, who asked that their names be withheld, told reporters after the opening session that the teen's feelings about his father's murder had changed.

"Since his arrest, the boy expressed regret for his mother's murder. But about his father, he said at the time that (killing him) had been inevitable," one of the lawyers said. "Today, he said he didn't need to kill (his father) -- a reflection of his regret -- and (I) believe he has changed a lot."

Another defense lawyer, who spoke with the teen for about 20 minutes after the session, told reporters the boy told him the prosecutors' words drove home to him what he had done.

As for motive, the boy told the lawyer he thought prosecutors had oversimplified it and that he had not killed his parents for such simple reasons.



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