Murder of Rie Isogai
Rie Isogai (磯谷 利恵 Isogai Rie, 20 July 1976 – 25 August 2007) was a 31-year-old Japanese office clerk who was robbed and murdered in Aichi Prefecture, Japan on the night of 24 August 2007 by three men who became acquainted through an underground message board. Because the three men met on an underground website, the case is frequently called the Dark Site Murder (闇サイト殺人 Yami Saito Satsujin) in Japan, "dark site" being the Japanese term for underground websites. Usually death penalty will not be applied for a single case of murder. However, the mother of the victim launched a campaign to call for the death penalty which led to a signature campaign to call for the death penalty on the three murderers, one of whom was sentenced to death on 18 March 2009, and two of the murderers were sentenced to life in prison on 13 April 2011.
On 17 August 2007, Kenji Kawagishi (川岸 健治 Kawagishi Kenji), a 40-year-old jobless man living in a van, posted a message to seek partners in crime on a cellphone website used for exchanging shady information. His message implying robbery was read and responded by Tsukasa Kanda (神田 司 Kanda Tsukasa), Yoshitomo Hori (堀 慶末 Hori Yoshitomo) and Yūichirō Hondō (本堂 裕一朗 Hondō Yūichirō). Kanda was a 36-year-old Asahi Shimbun salesman brought up in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture. Hori was a 32-year-old unemployed darts player who was under a heavy debt amounting to 4 million yen. Hondō was a 29-year-old jobless man who had difficulty paying his rent. All of them were desperate for cash.
After exchanging several emails, the four men met face-to-face for the first time on 21 August to discuss how they would be able to get money with ease. Hori suggested robbing a wealthy pachinko player whom he knew, and the other three agreed. They tried in vain to rob him on the same day. On the night of 23 August, Kawagishi and Hondō broke into a plumber's office in Nagakute, where Kawagishi ran away from fright, leaving Hondō alone. With too little money to go home, Hondō surrendered to the police, arrested for trespassing and attempted theft in the early hours of the 24th.
On the afternoon of 24 August, Kawagishi, Kanda and Hori met to draft another plot at the parking lot of a video rental shop in Midori, Nagoya. Kanda suggested that they kidnap and rob a woman walking on a street and kill her to prevent their robbery from being detected. Hori and Kawagishi agreed to his proposal.
Aboard Kawagishi's van, the three men searched for a woman walking alone since around 7:00 p.m. until they saw Rie Isogai walking home on a dark street in the Jiyūgaoka neighborhood of Chikusa, Nagoya around 10:00 p.m. Hori got out of the van and approached her, pretending to be asking directions, and forced her into the van. Kanda and Hori put handcuffs on Isogai, threatened her with knives, and demanded her money and ATM cards while Kawagishi drove his van to a lonely parking lot in Aisai, a suburban city of Nagoya. At the parking lot, Hori pulled a knife on Isogai and extracted her PIN for ATM cards.
Just after midnight, Kawagishi tried to rape Isogai though he failed in his attempt because Kanda and Hori stopped him. His sudden attempt to rape her frightened her so much that she tried to get out of the van, which made the three decide to kill her immediately. Despite her desperate pleas for her life, about 1 o'clock, Kanda wrapped packing tape around her head to smother her and, finding her still alive, bludgeoned her head with a hammer approximately thirty times, while Hori and Kawagishi choked her with a rope.
After killing her, the three men dumped the victim's body in a forest in Mizunami, Gifu Prefecture around 4 o'clock, and tried to withdraw money from her bank account at an ATM in a convenience store, only to find that she had told them the wrong PIN. Disappointed after failing to withdraw money, they shared 62,000 yen which they had found in the victim's handbag, and parted, promising that they would rob and kill women at random near Nagoya Station in the evening that day.
On 25 August 2007, Kawagishi telephoned the police to confess to the crime around 13:00. As for the reason he surrendered to the police, he explained that he was scared of receiving capital punishment. The Japanese penal code provides that punishment shall be extenuated if a criminal surrenders before being identified as a suspect by the authorities.
Finding the victim's abandoned body abandoned as he described, the police arrested Kawagishi and his crime partners on 26 August. Fumiko Isogai, the victim's mother and only family member, identified the body on the same day of their arrest. The three were charged with murder for robbery, kidnapping for profit, confinement and abandonment of a corpse by 5 October 2007. Kawagishi was additionally charged with attempted rape at the scene of robbery.
Petition for death penalty
In Japan, the general sentencing guideline means that death penalty is not usually given for a single case of murder. Fumiko Isogai, whose only child was killed in this crime, launched a campaign to call for the death penalty on the three murderers in September 2007. Within ten days, her petition was signed by 100,000 citizens. She presented her petition for the death penalty with some 150,000 signatures to the District Public Prosecutors' Office of Nagoya on 23 October 2007. About 318,000 citizens had signed her petition by December 2008. Although single murderers rarely face a death penalty in Japan, Takeshi Tsuchimoto, a criminal law scholar at Hakuoh University and former prosecutor of the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office, expected that the recent trend toward stricter punishments, backed by the growing public support for capital punishment, would encourage the court to sentence Kanda and Hori to death. Kawagishi's and Kanda's fathers also asked the court to sentence their sons to death.
The trial started at the District Court of Nagoya on 25 September 2008. All the defendants admitted to robbing and murdering Rie Isogai at the first session. They agreed that the brutality escalated as they tried to call each other's earlier boasts. Kanda told Kawagishi at their first meeting that he had committed homicide twice, and Hori wrote in an email to Kawagishi that he had just been released from prison, both of which turned out to be lies each of them told to make himself look bigger than the others. The defense attorneys argued that they should not be punished by death because the crime was carried out in an atmosphere that disabled the bluffing men to say no to each other, whatever atrocious act might be proposed, and because Isogai's death was accidental and could not be said to be so vicious as to result in capital punishment, given the sentences handed down in similar cases in the past.
The defendants disputed over who among them was the principal culprit and when they agreed to kill the victim. Kawagishi insisted that Kanda was the principal and that he had not known the plan to kill the woman until he saw the other two begin to smother her. Hori also claimed that Kanda led the crime and that he had not thought of murdering the victim until Kanda suggested choking her at the last minute. Kanda said that they had achieved a consensus on murder before they began to search for a woman to rob of money but that it had not been serious until Kawagishi's attempt to rape her made Isogai change her attitude, claiming that Hori, who allegedly hit the victim on the head with a hammer before Kanda did, was the principal.
During trial sessions, the defendants often got into quarrels with each other. Kanda made fun of Rie Isogai and called her a liar in his blog, which he started in order to reveal what he claims to be the true story of this case. Kawagishi said that the victim was just unlucky. Seeing the defendants far from apologetic, Fumiko Isogai said that their words were unbearable and added, "It might be better than superficial apologies".
The prosecutors demanded capital punishment for all the defendants in the closing argument on 20 January 2009. They insisted that the court sentence Kawagishi to death despite his voluntary surrender because he was unrepentant and the police would have been able to arrest the three without his surrender.
On 18 March 2009, the district court found the defendants guilty of all the charges. It sentenced Kanda and Hori to death. Judge Hiroko Kondō determined in the ruling that Kanda had played a leading role in the murder. She said that their motives for the crime left no room for leniency and that capital punishment was the only option, even after considering that there was only one victim, because their criminal acts were extremely merciless and heinous and deemed to be a serious threat to society. Kawagishi was life sentence because the court judged that he had provided the police with useful information that led to the arrest of Kanda and Hori.
Major national newspapers published editorials in support of Kondō's unorthodox judgment on the premise that capital punishment should be retained. The Asahi Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun claimed in their editorials that most people would be supportive of this judgment. The Nikkei commented that the judgment was reasonable. The Sankei Shimbun aggressively evaluated the judgment as "a natural and down-to-earth judgment of great significance". The Tokyo Shimbun expressed the view that capital punishment was inevitable when they thought how brutal the murder was and what the victim's family felt of it. They also noted, however, that it would be difficult for citizen judges to determine whether the death penalty would be appropriate in this kind of case under the lay judge system, which was started in May 2009. Hiroshi Itakura, a criminal law scholar at Nihon University said that this decision could be a new criterion for capital punishment under the lay judge system.
Four hours after he received the death penalty, Hori told journalists that he felt the words "capital punishment" were "heavy", though he had been prepared for it. Kawagishi said, "I'm glad my surrender was counted and I didn't get a death sentence."
The victim's mother and the victim's boyfriend expressed their disappointment at the judgment which saved Kawagishi's life.
The three defendants also appealed to the High Court of Nagoya to have their sentences reduced. However, Kanda withdrew his own appeal without his attorney's consent to have his death sentence finalized on 13 April 2009. The prosecutors lodged an appeal against the district court's decision for Kawagishi on 27 March 2009.
On 13 April 2011 the Nagoya High Court affirmed Kawagishi's life sentence and reduced Hori's death sentence to life, ruling that they were both less responsible than Kanda. The prosecution appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, which affirmed the two life sentences, but Hori was later sentenced to death in another murder case.
Tsukasa Kanda was executed by hanging on June 25, 2015.
- "2 to hang for gruesome murder". The Straits Times. AFP. 18 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- "「闇サイト殺人」の真相 前編". Weekly Gendai (in Japanese). Kodansha: 179–183. 14 March 2009.
- Ishihara, A.; Matsuda, S.; Kajiura, K. (9 March 2009). 幸せになれるよう願い「利恵」―無念の叫び 闇サイト殺人 18日判決(2). The Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- "Net strangers to hang for slaying". The Japan Times. 19 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- 闇サイト殺人判決 1被害者で複数死刑 社会的影響を重視. The Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 19 March 2009. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- ネット上で死刑求める署名 10日間で10万人！ 集まる. J-Cast News (in Japanese). 4 October 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- 闇サイト殺人、一審死刑の被告に無期判決 名古屋高裁. Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). 13 April 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- Sakurai, T.; Matsuoka, Y. (27 August 2007). 愛知女性殺害 なぜ"サイト男"らの犠牲に...言葉失う人々. The Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 27 August 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- サイト通じ７月にも共犯募る. The Shikoku Shimbun (in Japanese). 29 August 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.[dead link]
- Akiyama, S. (14 March 2009). 18日・闇サイト殺人判決／上 意思疎通なき寄せ集め集団. The Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- 女性を路上で拉致し殺害、山林に遺棄 犯罪サイト仲間の3人逮捕. 47 News (in Japanese). Press Net Japan. Kyodo. 26 August 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- 男３人を死体遺棄容疑で逮捕 名古屋の女性拉致殺害事件. The Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). 26 August 2007. Archived from the original on 26 August 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- Inoue, Keiichirō (6 March 2009). 事件追う迫る 虚勢張り合った末殺人. The Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). p. 38.
- 「第4の男」直前に出頭. Yahoo! News (in Japanese). Jiji. 28 August 2007. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- District Court of Nagoya, Official trial transcript of the 2nd session of Case 2007-わ-2010, 10 October 2008, p. 2. Available online at 平成20年10月10日 第2回公判 『速記録』 (in Japanese), Tsukasa Kanda's blog
- 千種拉致殺害冒頭陳述要旨. The Chunichi Shimbun, morning edition (in Japanese). 26 September 2008. Available online at 第1回公判, Fumiko Isogai's website.
- Ueno, Ren (May 2009). 名古屋闇サイト殺人事件 第4の男の告白. Jitsuwa Knuckles (in Japanese). Tokyo: Million Publishing: 28–29.
- "3 admit to murder, robbery". AsiaOne News. Singapore Press Holdings. Yomiuri Shimbun, ANN. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
- Ino, Ryōsuke, ed. (14 April 2009). "ドキュメント「闇サイト」法廷". 別冊宝島1619 「死刑」と「無期懲役」 (in Japanese). Tokyo: Takarajimasha. pp. 8–15. ISBN 978-4-7966-7062-3.
- "2 sentenced to death, 1 to life imprisonment over 2007 murder of Nagoya woman". The Mainichi Daily News. 18 March 2009. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- "Three men who met on Net charged over slaying". The Japan Times. Kyodo. 27 August 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- 「殺さないで...」命ごいの声離れず自首 川岸容疑者. The Sankei Shimbun (in Japanese). 27 August 2007. Archived from the original on 27 August 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- Akiyama, S.; Shikimori, K. (9 December 2008). 偽口座「２９６０」は「憎むわ」. The Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- 強盗殺人で3容疑者再逮捕 名古屋の女性拉致殺害. 47 News (in Japanese). Press Net Japan. Kyodo. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- 愛知の拉致・殺害 犯行翌日にも計画 金目当て、複数の女性狙い. The Sankei Shimbun (in Japanese). 27 August 2007. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- Criminal Code 42
- Ishihara, A.; Matsuda, S.; Kajiura, K. (8 March 2009). 「利恵ちゃん怖かったね」―無念の叫び 闇サイト殺人 18日判決(1). The Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 10 April 2009.[dead link]
- Criminal Code 240
- Criminal Code 225
- Criminal Code 220
- Criminal Code 190
- 強盗殺人で男３人を追起訴. The Shikoku Shimbun (in Japanese). 5 October 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.[dead link]
- Criminal Code 241
- Ishihara, A.; Matsuda, S.; Kajiura, K. (12 March 2009). 被告の言葉 「耐えられない軽さ」―無念の叫び 闇サイト殺人 18日判決(5). The Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 10 April 2009.[dead link]
- 極刑求め15万人が署名 闇サイト殺人、地検に提出. 47 News (in Japanese). Press Net Japan. Kyodo. 23 October 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- Shikimori, K.; Akiyama, S. (12 December 2008). 公判で自首の被告「死刑でもかまわない」. The Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- Akiyama, S. (20 December 2008). 闇サイト公判 「嘘吐き」被害者中傷 被告が事件後、知人に手紙. The Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- 3被告が死刑回避を主張 闇サイト事件結審. The Sankei Shimbun (in Japanese). 2 February 2009. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- 法廷で暴言、ブログで被害者侮蔑. Yahoo News (in Japanese). Jiji. 17 January 2009. Archived from the original on 18 January 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- 許されるのか！即日控訴で続く主犯格の"放言"ブログ. Nikkan Gendai (in Japanese). 19 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.[dead link]
- 闇サイト被告をたしなめる 名古屋地裁の裁判長. 47 News (in Japanese). Press Net Japan. Kyodo. 11 December 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- "Gallows urged for trio in abduction-slaying". The Japan Times. Kyodo. 21 January 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- "Death Sentences for 'Net Murder'". The Asahi Shimbun. 19 March 2009. p. 1. Retrieved 10 April 2009.[dead link]
- Morishima, M. (22 March 2009). 社説ウオッチング：闇サイト殺人判決 死刑制度前提に容認. The Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- 闇サイト殺人 常識に沿った死刑判断だ. The Sankei Shimbun (in Japanese). 19 March 2009. Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
- Shikimori, K.; Kimura, F.; Nakamura, K. (19 March 2009). 闇サイト殺人判決 堀被告「死刑の言葉重い」 落ち込み、涙ぐむ. The Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- "殺人バレそうなら自首すりゃOK？ 死刑か無期か微妙な線引き". J-Cast News (in Japanese). 19 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- "Convicted killer withdraws appeal". The Asahi Shimbun. 16 April 2009. Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
- 愛知・女性拉致殺害：闇サイト殺人 磯谷さん殺害の川岸被告、検察側が控訴. The Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 28 March 2009. Archived from the original on 5 April 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- "Man serving life for murder gets death sentence for another slaying". japantimes.co.jp. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
- 「闇サイト事件」神田司死刑囚の死刑執行 法務省. The Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). 25 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.