The inexplicable change in attitude of the “sawed-off, slaughtered old woman” from rampage to fury.
On March 16, the Tokyo High Court (Judge Toru Miura presiding) held the first trial for the appeal of a wife (76 at the time of her arrest) accused of murdering her husband by sawing off his head at home.
The first trial was held last year at the Yokohama District Court (Taro Kageyama presiding), and on September 17 of the same year, Yoko Maru was sentenced to 8 years in prison (with a 12-year sentence sought), but the defendant appealed against this sentence. According to the court decision, on the morning of March 5 last year, the defendant sawed the neck of her husband, Hisao (83 at the time), at their home in Chigasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture, causing him to bleed to death.
The Yokohama District Court ruling stated, “It is clear that a long-standing grudge was at the root of the crime,” and after his arrest, Maru told Hisao that he had told him this.
I killed my husband, Hisao. My current feeling is that I am relieved. I didn’t know if I could kill my husband as a woman who was defeated by force. I am relieved that I was able to kill him.
We had an arranged marriage, but I never thought I liked him. I disliked the violent part the most. I have been punched in the face three times. Besides that, I have been almost hit and had things thrown at me many times.
The other thing I dislike is that they don’t give me money. Hisao, who worked at a factory, stopped giving me his salary after 3 months of marriage and did not give me my first bonus. He spent most of his salary on drinking, pachinko, and other games. I worked hard to make ends meet and raise our children.” (From Maru’s statement)
The defendant and Hisao entered into an arranged marriage in 1970 and had their first daughter and son. They divorced once in 1998, after their eldest daughter married and became independent. They moved out of their home and lived in an apartment together, but remarried in 2005. She returned to her home and lived with her eldest son and Hisao. However, according to the opening statement of the prosecution in the first trial, “Hisao-san spent almost the entire day shut up in a six-tatami-mat Japanese-style room on the first floor.
He lived on a diet of bread, rice balls, and other snacks given to him by his eldest son and the defendant.” Although the eldest son, the defendant, and Hisao lived together, only Hisao led a completely reclusive life.
For lunch, he would give them cobbler buns and ice cream, and for dinner, he would just give them onigiri (rice balls) he had hoarded. I changed my pajamas once a year. I would tell him to change, and he would do so.
While the couple was divorced, Hisao was hospitalized for malnutrition caused by alcohol, and after leaving the hospital, he temporarily needed nursing care. While taking care of her ex-husband, including changing diapers, she decided to get back together with him, saying, “My oldest son can’t take care of me, and I can’t let my daughter do it either.
She said, “There is something else I don’t like about my husband, and that is his smell; he hasn’t taken a bath in over 17 years and hasn’t brushed his teeth once since we got married. When I open the door to the Japanese-style room to eat or use the bathroom, there is an unbearable stench. Even if I wear a mask or hold my breath, the smell is not half as bad as it is in the summer”.
Thus, the evidence at the trial of the first trial and other evidence shows that the defendant was disgusted with Hisao-san at the time of the incident. For some reason, however, the defendant repeatedly stormed out of the courtroom at the district court and refused to testify. He repeatedly hit his own head with his hand and banged on the desk, making banging noises. He would repeatedly perform bizarre acts, such as moving his upper body back and forth, back and forth, left and right, and even tipping over on the floor. He was sometimes ordered to leave the courtroom because of this. He was grabbed by a staff member on either side of his arms and dragged halfway in and out of the courtroom.
At the Yokohama District Court, Maru did not want to say how he felt in court, and it appeared as if he was expressing such feelings …… with his body, accepting the sentence that was handed down as a result. As someone who witnessed what was going on at the time, it was surprising that he filed an appeal against the district court’s ruling. This time, he would probably go berserk in the courtroom of the Tokyo High Court. The defendant is not required to appear at the appeal hearing. Wouldn’t they show up in court?
It was with these concerns in mind that we went to the first hearing of the appeal trial. Maru appeared through the door at the back of the courtroom, wearing a loose-fitting robe and gray hair. He walked firmly on his own two feet and sat on the couch in front of the defense counsel. During personal questions, he gave his name and address in a clear, audible voice.
What was that rampage at the first trial at the Yokohama District Court? Then he read out the evidence requested by the defense attorney, a document summarizing what he had heard from Maru.
He said, “I can’t really explain the reason for my appeal, but I think that eight years in prison, I think it’s wrong. I knew I was going to hit or flop something in court, but I did it. Looking back on it now, I feel very remorseful. I wish the judge in Yokohama would listen to me.”
I wonder if he has come to his senses and regained his true self. He continued to read out his feelings toward Hisao, which were the exact opposite of what he had said at the time of his arrest, that he was relieved that he had been able to kill him.
I didn’t hate my husband that much. I feel bad that I killed him. I should have cleaned his room, given him a bath, and taken care of his hair. I don’t know how it happened. Now I really feel like I shouldn’t have done that.”
In a follow-up questioning of the defendant, Maru expressed his own current feelings toward Hisao. He was not as violent as he once was, and his voice was clearly audible.
Defense counsel asked, “Is there anything that you think was different in the previous trial in Yokohama, like what you said or what you wrote in your statement?”
Maru defendant “Hmmm……… I think he was a good man. So …… I’m sorry. Very, very regretful.”
Defense counsel: “In the first trial, you said, ‘I killed Hisao, banzai,’ and when asked if you thought so, you said, ‘Maybe so,’ but now you think so?”
Defendant Maru: “I thought so at the time, but now that time has passed ……, so ……, after all, human life, you know, you have to value it.”
At the time of the incident and his arrest, he appeared to be trapped, anxious about continuing to care for Hisao and whether his eldest son would be able to take care of him after his death. However, perhaps because his life had changed so drastically, he seemed to be reflecting on his actions more calmly than before.
Defense counsel: “Hisao-san’s hair had grown down to his waist and his beard was up to his chest. His fingernails were also long, and cigarette butts were scattered under the bedding. It must have been difficult to live with someone like that.”
The Maru defendant said, “I wish I had taken care of him ……. I should have changed the meals. The meals were a little bit. I should have done it properly.
Counsel: “You once told me that you wished you could turn back time, if you could do that now, what would you do?”
Maru defendant: “I should have cooked for you a little more. More often. Maybe the quantity wasn’t enough.”
Counsel: “What do you think would have changed if you had done that?”
Defendant Maru: “I think (Hisao-san) would have gotten better.”
The feelings of resentment he harbored at the time of his arrest seem to have shifted over time to feelings of regret in the courtroom of the appeals court. He also confided, “Because I was able to talk to my lawyer [at the appeals court],” and it appears that his feelings have calmed down now that he has someone to talk openly about his feelings. We have seen cases in the past in which defendants who have spent some time since their arrest have come to recognize the situation they were in, have changed their words and attitudes, and have expressed their regrets.
Maru said at the end of the interview, “I am not sure if I am still in the same situation.
All I have now is regret.
The appeals court decision is scheduled to be handed down in April.
Interview and text： Yuki Takahashi
Hearing officer. Freelance writer. The Village of Tsukebi: Did a Rumor Kill Five People?" (Shobunsha), "Runaway Senior Citizen, Crime Theater" (Yoizensha Shinsho), "Kanae Kijima, Dangerous Love's Inner Meaning" (Tokuma Shoten), "Kanae Kijima Theater" (Takarajimasya), and in the past, "Kasumikko Club: Daughters' Trial Observations" (Shinchosha), and many other books based on interviews and court hearings on murder cases.