Surprising Reason Why Murderer of 7-Year-Old Niigata Girl Was Not Sentenced to Death
Ryo Kobayashi squeezed the victim's neck, killed her, and dumped her body on the tracks. Later, a train ran over the body...
On March 17, the Tokyo High Court ruled against Ryo Haruka Kobayashi, who was accused of murdering a second-grade girl in Niigata City four years ago and dumping her body on the railroad tracks.
At the first trial, the Niigata District Court, the prosecution had sought the death penalty for Kobayashi and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Both the defense and prosecution appealed against this decision, and the trial continued. If only the defense had appealed, the sentence would not have been heavier than the first trial, but since the prosecution had also appealed, there was a possibility that the first trial would be overturned and the death sentence would be handed down. Therefore, much attention was focused on the trial.
The incident occurred on May 7, 2018. Kobayashi was charged with murder and other crimes for killing a second-grade girl, A (7 at the time), in Niigata City and dumping her body on the railroad tracks.
According to the indictment, at around 3:20 p.m. on the same day, Kobayashi was driving a light car in Nishi Ward, Niigata City, when his car struck Ms. A from behind on her buttocks as she was leaving school. Between 15:28 and 59:00, in the parking lot of “Nagisa no Fureai Hiroba” in the same ward, he touched Ms. A’s lower body, committed an indecent act, and after Ms. A regained consciousness, he squeezed her neck and killed her. He then squeezed Ms. A’s neck when she regained consciousness, killing her.
At around 10:25 p.m., he dumped Ms. A’s body on the tracks of the JR East Echigo Line. Later, a train ran over the body and severed the neck.
On the morning of the incident, Kobayashi woke up and immediately decided to go AWOL. At 6:55 a.m., he logged out of his Google account on his smartphone. It is known that he then drove his car while ransacking the girl until just before the incident, when Ms. A was hit by the car driven by the Kobayashi defendant and taken into the car, crying, “My head hurts, I want to call my mother.
In the first trial held at the Niigata District Court in 2019, Kobayashi denied committing indecent acts on Ms. A before her death and denying his intention to kill her. The prosecution, on the other hand, claimed that Kobayashi had the intent to kill. The prosecution sought the death penalty, calling the crime “a rare act of viciousness and atrocity,” but the Niigata District Court sentenced Kobayashi to life imprisonment. However, the district court found that Kobayashi had the intent to kill at the time of the crime and that he had committed indecent acts before his death.
The criteria for determining the “sentence” were…
The appeal court did not accept Kobayashi’s argument, but neither did the prosecution’s argument for the death penalty. The Tokyo High Court stated that one of the reasons for this was that “the act was not as malicious as in other cases.
The prosecution argued that “the murder was premeditated and brutal,” and that “the defendant treated Mr. A like an object, not a person, through and through. The prosecution argued that the death penalty should be imposed even in light of other cases. The court, however, first of all, stated that in the act of killing, “He did not intend to kill from the beginning, and the act itself was not highly premeditated. The act itself was not highly premeditated. It was random and accidental,” and the court did not find that the defendant’s act of killing was highly premeditated.
The court also found that “the act of killing was not particularly cruel” when looking at the incident as a whole, not just the act of killing.
The court found that “the method of the murder was central to the punishment, but the defendant came up with the idea of abandoning the body after the murder. The first trial court took into consideration the fact that he crashed his car into the girl for indecent purposes and that he had her run over by a train after her death. The defendant embraced an indecent purpose, crashed his car into the girl, drove to a park, and while committing an indecent act, the girl regained consciousness and screamed, so he strangled her to death, and then ran her over by a train because he was unable to dispose of her corpse. The girl was strangled to death and then run over by a train because she was unable to dispose of her corpse.
The court also compared the case to similar cases in which one victim had been sentenced to death in the past. The court also compared the case of “binding the victim’s wrists, pouring kerosene on her, and lighting her on fire” and the case of “kidnapping, confining, raping, and strangling the victim, and then demanding a ransom. The court concluded that the act of killing itself was not cruel, but rather the act of murder itself was not cruel.
The act of killing itself was not cruel, nor was it premeditated. Furthermore, it is not as serious as other death penalty cases. …… In a criminal trial, the pain inflicted on the victim while he or she was still alive is probably the most important factor.
At the end of the High Court’s sentencing, the presiding judge also referred to the defendant’s lack of remorse, saying, “Although he has expressed remorse, it must be said that he is not necessarily sincere in his remorse.
In court in September 2021, the defendant got down on his knees to the bereaved family and stated, “I will continue to apologize and make amends for the rest of my life, even if it takes my life. One would think that he would accept a sentence of life imprisonment in order to make amends for the rest of his life, but he has appealed his sentence. The prosecution, on the other hand, declined to appeal, saying that they could not find a legitimate reason for the appeal. There is no longer any possibility that the Supreme Court will sentence the defendant to death, which is heavier than life imprisonment.
Interview and text： Yuki Takahashi
Bystander. Freelance writer. Author of "Tsukebi no Mura: Did a Rumor Kill Five People?" (Shobunsha), "Runaway Senior Citizen, Crime Theater" (Yoizensha Shinsho), "Kanae Kishima Kanae Dangerous Love Depths" (Tokuma Shoten), "Kanae Kishima Theater" (Takarajima-sha), and in the past, "Kasumikko Club: Daughters' Trial Observation Diary" (Shinchosha), and many other books based on interviews and trial hearings on murder cases.
Photo： Junpei Kota