Photo/IllutrationChisako Kakehi (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

KYOTO--The Kyoto District Court on Nov. 7 sentenced to death a woman dubbed the “black widow” after convicting her of murdering her elderly husband and two boyfriends with cyanide.

Chisako Kakehi, 70, was also found guilty of attempting to murder another elderly boyfriend.

The court agreed with prosecutors’ arguments that Kakehi poisoned the men to obtain properties through inheritance or to escape from paying back money to the victims.

She immediately appealed the ruling to a high court.

Kakehi’s lawyers had argued that she should be found not guilty because there was no evidence directly linking her to deaths of the three men. They also said she was suffering from dementia and should not be held responsible.

The ruling, however, said, “It is unthinkable that a person other than her was the perpetrator.”

Kakehi repeatedly married or dated wealthy older men. Three of them died under suspicious circumstances during the period from December 2007 to December 2013.

According to the ruling given by Presiding Judge Ayako Nakagawa, Kakehi murdered her newlywed husband, Isao Kakehi, 75, in Kyoto Prefecture, her boyfriend Masanori Honda, 71, in Osaka Prefecture, and her boyfriend Minoru Hioki, 75, in Hyogo Prefecture.

She also poisoned boyfriend Toshiaki Suehiro, 79, in Hyogo Prefecture, but he survived, according to the ruling.

The court noted that the defendant was in possession of cyanide because a bag containing the substance was found in a plant pot that she tossed away.

The court also said it was possible for Kakehi to feed cyanide to her victims without raising suspicions because of her close relationships to them.

As for the motive, the ruling pointed to moves she made to obtain inheritance immediately before or after the deaths of the three men.

The court rejected the defense lawyers’ argument that Kakehi should not be held criminally responsible because of her dementia.

The ruling said her dementia was mild, and that sentences in an e-mail she wrote in December 2013 were lucid, showing that the disorder did not start until after the men’s deaths.

“You made light of human lives for money,” the ruling said. “Your acts were extremely malicious, and the results were serious. We cannot help choosing capital punishment.”

Citizen judges were used in Kakehi’s 135-day trial, the second longest under the lay judge system that started in 2009.