An Alzheimer’s patient in Japan who says he cannot remember killing his granddaughter nearly two years ago has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
Susumu Tomizawa, 88, got into an argument with his 16-year-old granddaughter, Tomomi, in their home in Fukui Prefecture on Sept. 9, 2020. On the same night, he took a 6.69-inch-long kitchen knife and went into her bedroom, where he repeatedly stabbed her in the neck.
Police responded to the scene after Tomizawa called his eldest son and claimed he found Tomomi’s bloodied body.
Tomizawa has admitted to killing his granddaughter, but he said he could not recall what their fight was about nor remember killing her due to his Alzheimer’s disease.
The 88-year-old’s mental state became a major factor in his closely watched trial as judges debated whether or not he knowingly killed Tomomi. Tomizawa had also been heavily drinking on the night of the incident.
Hiroki Nakagawa, a forensic psychiatrist, confirmed that Tomizawa’s condition likely did not influence his crime based on his past medical records.
“His actions were purposeful and consistent with his intent to kill,” Nakagawa told the court. “He had a motive for committing the crime, such as quarreling with Tomomi, and his actions were purposeful and consistent with his intent to kill, as he stabbed her in the neck.”
Judge Yoshinobu Kawamura ruled that the elderly man was able to control his actions, citing the phone call he made to his son after killing Tomomi.
“The defendant was in a state of mental exhaustion at the time of the crime and he had great difficulty in judging right or wrong or in dissuading himself from committing the crime, but he was not in a state where he was unable to do so,” Kawamura said.
Tomizawa was sentenced to four years and six months in prison by the Fukui District Court on May 31. Japan’s law punishes murder with a minimum sentence of five years that can be increased to life imprisonment or the death penalty. Tomizawa’s sentence was reduced due to his illness.
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