Photo/Illutration People line up in front of the Tokyo District Court's Tachikawa branch for a chance to win a lottery for a seat to hear the verdict read in the case of Takahiro Shiraishi on Dec. 15. (Azusa Kato)

A serial killer was given the death sentence on Dec. 15 for murdering nine people in 2017 at his apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, just west of Tokyo.

Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, was indicted on multiple counts of murder, robbery and forcible sexual intercourse in connection with the dismembered bodies of eight women and one man found in his apartment.

A major focus of the trial was whether the victims consented to be killed since they initially contacted Shiraishi after he indicated on social media that he was willing to help people with suicidal thoughts.

But the Tokyo District Court's Tachikawa branch ruled that the victims gave no such consent and concluded that Shiraishi was mentally fit to stand trial and accept the consequences of his actions.

On Dec. 15, the court handed down the death sentence prosecutors had demanded.

Prosecutors argued that some of the victims retracted statements that they wished to die and also mentioned that all the victims had resisted when Shiraishi tried to kill them. That, according to prosecutors, meant none of the victims had given their consent to be killed.

The court also apparently deemed Shiraishi’s testimony as credible because it was about the only evidence available to prosecutors in explaining how the murders actually took place.

The court ruled that Shiraishi was mentally fit based on the fact that he carefully planned the crimes and because of the extreme measures he took to hide evidence by dismembering the victims’ bodies and burying the parts.

Though Shiraishi was never very cooperative with his defense team, they tried to get a lighter punishment for him by arguing that the victims all went to his apartment on their own volition and had clearly made known over social media their desire to die.

Those actions meant the victims discussed how to end their lives with Shiraishi and that they could easily envision dying at his hands, they argued.

Defense lawyers also argued that Shiraishi's psychiatric examination was insufficient and said he suffered from some mental disorder that rendered him unfit to stand trial.

Shiraishi, according to the indictment, lured the eight women and one man to his apartment between August and October 2017 and fatally strangled them with a rope. He stole money from all his victims and sexually assaulted all eight women.

(This article was written by Naomi Nishimura and Azusa Kato.)