High Court Rejects Retrial of Woman, 95, for 1979 Murder

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A lawyer, center, informs supporters at the Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court in Miyazaki of the court decision not to grant a retrial for the 1979 murder, on Monday.

MIYAZAKI (Jiji Press) — A high court in southwestern Japan decided Monday not to grant a 95-year-old woman a retrial for the 1979 murder of a man in the town of Osaki, Kagoshima Prefecture.

The Miyazaki branch of Fukuoka High Court upheld Kagoshima District Court’s rejection of the fourth retrial plea by Ayako Haraguchi, who has served a 10-year prison term for the case.

The high court, presided over by Judge Masao Yasu, also rejected a retrial for Haraguchi’s late former husband.

According to her conviction, Haraguchi conspired with relatives, including her former husband, to kill her brother-in-law, then 42, by strangling him with a towel late on Oct. 12, 1979. They buried his body in compost in a cowshed early in the following day.

About two hours before the murder, two neighbors found the victim drunk and lying near a gutter in the town, and he was taken home by truck.

In the retrial plea, the defense claimed that the victim had been already dead by the time he was carried home, with cervical spine damage caused in his fall into the gutter and acute intestinal necrosis caused by dehydration resulting from alcohol consumption.

The defense made the claim based on an examination by an emergency physician of a photograph of the victim taken at the judicial autopsy.

In the high court, Judge Yasu pointed out, as did the district court, that the defense’s claim was based on limited information from the photograph.

The judge then concluded that there was no reasonable doubt about the conviction.