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Friday, July 21, 2006

Pair get 13 years for fatal '05 beating of homeless man


Staff writer

The Tokyo District Court sentenced two men Thursday to 13 years in prison for beating a homeless man to death at a park in Tokyo's Sumida Ward last July.

Naoto Yoshida, 21, and the other man, now 20, were convicted of another assault in June last year at a nearby park, in which they seriously wounded a 47-year-old man. The name of the 20-year-old has been withheld because he was a minor at the time of the crimes.

Presiding Judge Kunihiko Koma, in handing down the ruling, said the accused had the "intent to kill" and rejected the defense argument that the slaying was not committed on purpose.

"There are no reasons to plead extenuating circumstances," the judge said.

However, Koma reckoned their intent to kill was not as extreme as prosecutors had argued, because the pair were not acquainted with their victim.

Prosecutors had demanded 15-year sentences.

According to the court, Yoshida and his accomplice attacked 64-year-old Masamitsu Katori in the early hours of July 13, 2005.

The two repeatedly kicked the victim in the head.

Katori, who was sleeping on a cardboard mat at the time, was found dead later in the morning from loss of blood.

After the two were arrested on July 16, 2005, it was revealed that they had assaulted a 47-year-old company employee at a different park in Sumida Ward less than a month before murdering Katori.

Yoshida and the other defendant, who were classmates at a night school, had been drinking together prior to both incidents.



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