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Deaths of Okinawa couple lead to 13-year prison term

Date Posted: 2006-11-25

A 66-year-old man charged with murder in last year’s deaths of an Okinawa couple has been sentenced to thirteen years in prison.

Takezo Yonetaka had denied killing the couple, but admitted to dumping their bodies in a car and sending it plunging over a cliff in northern Okinawa. The Naha District Court downgraded the murder charge to inflicting injuries resulting in death, because the prosecution couldn’t prove the cause of death.

The couple, 71-year-old taxi driver Shojiro Tamamura and his wife Tsuneko, were found dead, their bodies wrapped in carpets, in the trunk of a car which a hiker found at the side of a mountain in the north. “The external injuries of the victim can not be described as life threatening,” said presiding judge Hiroyuki Yoshii, “and reasonable doubts arose over murderous intent.”

Testimony in the case revealed Yonetaka was angry over a money dispute and struck the woman, causing her death. Officials say the woman died of traumatic shock, but an autopsy could not determine her husband’s cause of death. Yonetaka admitted dumping the bodies in a car trunk, with help from a 60-year-old coconspirator, but denied killing the two.

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