Photo/Illutration A drawing of Takahiro Shiraishi during the first hearing of his murder trial at the Tokyo District Court’s Tachikawa branch on Sept. 30 (Image drawn by Kageyosi Koyanagi)

A 29-year-old man admitted to murdering nine people, sexual assault and dismembering their bodies, but his lawyers argued for leniency, saying the victims gave their “consent” to be killed.

“I have nothing to refute the prosecutors’ arguments,” Takahiro Shiraishi said in a clear voice on Sept. 30 after his trial opened at the Tokyo District Court’s Tachikawa branch on the outskirts of the capital.

Prosecutors are expected to seek the death sentence at a later hearing. They have described his actions as “premeditated and heinous.”

Shiraishi is accused of killing nine individuals, whose ages ranged from 15 to 26, between August and October in 2017. They were from Tokyo, Kanagawa, Gunma, Fukushima and Saitama prefectures.

Prosecutors said Shiraishi lured the female victims to his apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, by pretending that he would commit suicide with them. He strangled all nine victims with a rope, raped the females and robbed them of up to tens of thousands of yen each.

The victims’ bodies were dismembered and kept at the apartment in a cold box, according to the prosecution.

But Shiraishi’s defense team contended that the victims had “expressed their wishes to end their lives to an unspecified number of people on social media.”

They contacted Shiraishi on social media and went to his apartment on their own will, the lawyers said.

“The victims envisioned that their deaths would be achieved at his hands,” one of the lawyers said.

The defense team also said Shiraishi may have been mentally unfit at that time to take responsibility for his actions and requested further examinations.

If the “consent” argument is accepted by the citizen judges at his trial, the suspected serial killer would face a maximum sentence of 10 years and six months in prison if found guilty.

However, prosecutors argued that no consent existed for the capital crimes, saying the accused committed “plain murder” and had the mental capacity to take responsibility for his actions.

According to prosecutors, Shiraishi in October 2015 started a job of luring women into the sex industry through social media. He was indicted on charges of violating the employment security law in connection with his work.

When he returned to his parents’ home after being released on bail, he developed a desire to “make a living without working” and to become a “pimp,” prosecutors said.

His targets were women with suicidal desires.
With his experience of persuading women to do sex-related work, Shiraishi believed that he could control women who wanted to die, the prosecutors said.

He opened five Twitter accounts to look for suicidal women. After posting a message on Twitter that read “Let’s die together,” he began exchanges with several women.

According to prosecutors, Shiraishi’s first victim was a 21-year-old woman from Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture. He choked her unconscious at his apartment in August 2017, raped and then killed her. After her death, he stole her money.

“That led him to become convinced that through this method, he could gain money without doing any work while satisfying his sexual desires at the same time,” prosecutors said.

He used several common tactics in the attacks against the women, including luring them to his apartment under false pretenses, checking to see if they had money, and raping the women if they were not suicidal, prosecutors said.

Their bodies were dismembered to hide evidence of the murders, they said.

The only male victim was a 20-year-old from Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, who was an acquaintance of the first victim and was trying to locate her. Shiraishi killed him to conceal his crimes, prosecutors said.