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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Seven years for sister's grisly slaying

Court: Man was insane when he carved victim up


Staff writer

The Tokyo District Court sentenced a 23-year-old man Tuesday to seven years in prison for killing his sister but acquitted him of dismembering her corpse, ruling he was legally insane when he committed that part of the crime.

Yuki Muto, a former cram school student, was found guilty of suffocating his sister, Azumi, 20, in December 2006.

But presiding Judge Yasuhiro Akiba ruled that Muto experienced dissociative disorders after the murder, triggering disruptions in his perception and identity at the time he cut up the corpse.

Akiba took into consideration a mental examination by a court-appointed psychiatrist that determined Muto was born with Asperger's syndrome, which usually manifests itself in difficulties with social interaction. The exam also pointed to Muto not being of sound mind when he dismembered his sister.

Muto was "controlled" by a different personality when mutilating the corpse and lacked the ability to be in command of his acts, the court said.

He was convicted of assaulting his sister, a college student, at their home in Shibuya Ward after she allegedly badgered him about his failed attempts to enter dental college.

He pounded her with a wooden sword before suffocating her with a towel and drowning her in the family's bathtub on Dec. 30, 2006. Muto dismembered the body with a knife and saw, which were discovered in his room on Jan. 4, 2007.

The court found Muto had "a strong intent to kill" his sister because she repeatedly berated him over his failed efforts to follow in the footsteps of his parents, who are both dentists.

Muto had pleaded guilty to the slaying when his trial began in July, but his lawyers argued that he suffered from psychological distress and could not be held liable for both the killing and the dismemberment.

They praised the ruling for acknowledging half of their argument but said they would consider appealing after studying the verdict with Muto and his family.

Prosecutors had demanded a 17-year prison term, alleging Muto was "completely liable" for the murder and subsequent acts, criticizing the mental examination as being based on hypothetical circumstances and lacking authenticity.

Judge Akiba instructed Muto to mourn for his sister and atone for his crime, but to live positively as a member of society in the future because he had the capacity to do so.



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