I try not to think about the outcome of the trial.
Visiting room at the Tokyo Detention Center. In the visiting room of the Tokyo Detention Center, the man I met for the first time in about five and a half years since my direct interview after the incident, asked me, “Do you still want to die? He looked away from the acrylic panel and pretended to think for a few seconds before answering in an indifferent manner.
I’ve never thought about death. If I had committed the crime and the worst case scenario (the death penalty) was OK with me, I wouldn’t have met him like this.
Hayato Imai, 29, is the defendant in the case of a series of deaths at a nursing home in Kawasaki City. Hayato Imai, 29, the defendant in the case of the deaths at a series of nursing homes in Kawasaki City, showed up for the meeting with short hair and a dark blue sweatshirt. He wore the black-rimmed glasses that had made an impression on him at the time, and his skin appeared to be fairer and plumper.
I’ve gained 20 kilograms. It’s just lack of exercise.
The appeals court is about to hear the case. He may be sentenced to death. Are you not in a hurry?
Even though I look like this, I’m in a hurry. At the time, not only me but also my family was under investigation by the police, and I thought that my family would be relieved if I admitted to the crime, so I lied and confessed that I killed three people without thinking much about it.
The tragedy occurred at S-Amille Kawasaki Saiwai-cho, a nursing home in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Between November and December of 2002, three residents fell to their deaths one after another. Imai was the only staff member who worked the night shift on all days of the incident.
The defendant, Imai, outright denied any involvement. The police treated it as an accidental death for a while.
However, in May of 2003, Imai was arrested for stealing a resident’s ring. After that, sloppy care practices at the home came to light, and the police began investigating again.
Then, on February 15, 2004, Imai was arrested for murder. Imai was arrested on suspicion of murder, and during the interrogation he admitted to the crime. However, when the trial began, Imai retracted his confession and claimed his innocence.
However, on March 22, 2006, the Yokohama District Court sentenced Imai to death.
I will prove my innocence at the second trial. In fact, I didn’t do it.
In a meeting with the author, Imai eloquently explained the reasons for his appeal, and also responded to some small talk.
–How is your physical condition?
How is your health? I don’t even have corona.
–What is your daily support?
My family, my supporters, and my legal team at ……. There are people like me who support me.
–How do you relax?
Reading sports articles in newspapers and magazines. I have always been a big fan of the Yomiuri Giants, especially Hayato Sakamoto, who I have been rooting for since before he joined the team. On days when the Yomiuri Giants win, I celebrate by eating canned crab and eel. I also like golf, and was excited by Hideki Matsuyama’s eagle putt at the Masters and his second shot on the 18th hole on the last day.
–What do you think about the death penalty?
I think the death penalty needs to be abolished. I think the death penalty needs to be abolished, and there should be a deeper discussion.
The reason why I have been meeting with Imai since October is because he has changed from confessing to the crime to claiming his innocence at the first trial.
I can’t tell you what’s in it (the reason for his not guilty plea). I will write a memoir. It will be easier to understand.
The memoir sent to him was enormous, covering about 200 sheets of letterhead. The contents mainly consisted of the results of a psychiatric evaluation by a university professor.
The author (defendant Imai) underwent a psychiatric evaluation by a psychiatrist from around late August to mid-November 2005. As a result, a definite diagnosis was made that the author has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The results of the evaluation indicated that the author had autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and although it was not definitive, there was a suspicion of intellectual disability and a high possibility of low intellectual ability. (Partial summary)
In her memoir, she also described her developmental disorder, ASD, as a reminder.
There are weaknesses in situational awareness and imagination, limited interest in human relationships, empathy and emotionality, a tendency to threaten regularity and commitment, and a tendency to find stability through regularity.
Imai said, “That’s why I confessed to a crime I didn’t commit when investigators told me they would protect my mother from the media.
It is true that the defendant Imai had a probability of having a developmental disability. For example, in order to prevent censorship at the detention center, Imai had blacked out all parts of his diary to the extent that the contents were illegible. Other considerations included the fact that the three elderly people who died had dementia, and the possibility of accidental deaths or the existence of a real killer could not be ruled out.
If I was going to be falsely accused, I wanted to know if there was an alibi, a new fact that would lead to the real murderer, or the truth behind the death by fall.
In mid-November, at the end of our interview, I asked Imai again about his current state of mind.
I don’t feel any tension. （I’m trying not to think about the verdict.
On the other hand, a reporter from a national newspaper’s social affairs department said, “I don’t think that his confession will help the case.
On the other hand, a reporter from a national newspaper’s social affairs department said, “The confession by the defendant contains information that only the parties involved in the case can know. It will be difficult to overturn the first trial based solely on the results of the psychiatric evaluation, which the defendant Imai claims.
The appeals court is scheduled to conclude on November 26.
Interviewed and written by Mizuho Takagi
Non-fiction writer. He is the author of the most recent book, “The Underground”. Methamphetamine Underground: The man who knows everything about the distribution of methamphetamine in Japan YouTube channel ” Mizuho Takagi Channel “.
From the December 3, 2021 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Shinji Hamasaki (defendant Imai), Takero Yatsuka (diary)