His lawyers argued in court he should not be held responsible for the murder because his illness causes dementia.
Trigger Warning: This story contains graphic details of murder that may be disturbing for readers.
On the night of September 9th, 2020, Susumu Tomizawa, now 88, got into an argument with his granddaughter Tomomi, 16. Tomizawa was drinking heavily that evening and he was so upset that he entered Tomomi’s bedroom with a 17cm-long kitchen knife and repeatedly stabbed her in the neck, a court in western Japan heard last month, per 7 News.
Then, he called his eldest son and said that he found her bloodied body, the court heard. Soon, the cops arrived at the scene and they arrested the man.
Tomizawa admitted to killing his granddaughter nearly two years ago in a court in Western Japan last month but he said, he doesn’t remember doing it because he has Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a progressive and irreversible neurological disorder that destroys neurons and shrinks regions of the brain.
In court, his lawyers argued he should not be held responsible for the murder because his illness causes dementia, a condition that results in multiple cognitive deficits such as memory loss, according to CNN.
In a court in western Japan last month, Susumu Tomizawa, 88, admitted to killing his granddaughter Tomomi, 16, nearly two years ago -- but, he said, he doesn't remember doing it. https://t.co/uzMjdy4mk9— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) June 13, 2022
"He was insane at the time due to dementia and alcohol consumption ... and therefore pleaded not guilty," they said. But the court in Fukui city disagreed.
On May 31, 2022, Tomizawa was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for murder. But during the trial, Tomizawa's mental state was taken into serious consideration by doctors, lawyers and judges to ascertain whether or not he had knowingly killed his granddaughter.
Doctors who evaluated his condition insisted he had a motive for committing murder. "His actions were purposeful and consistent with his intent to kill," forensic psychiatrist Hiroki Nakagawa told the court.
Prosecutors said the elderly man was able to control his actions and "possessed the ability to judge right and wrong," despite his illness.
In its ruling, the court acknowledged Tomizawa's Alzheimer's but also said he had understood the consequences of his actions. "After careful examination and consultation with the defendant, we [made] a careful judgment," judge Yoshinobu Kawamura said.
It began as a family argument and ended in tragedy – a teenage girl stabbed to death by her elderly grandfather in a case that shocked a nation https://t.co/BsQk5MjZV5— CNN (@CNN) June 12, 2022
"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."
Japan has one of the largest populations of elderly people in the world, with more than 20% of its residents over the age of 65, according to government records. The number of Japanese centenarians is also at an all-time high.
Also, Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia affecting elderly people, according to experts. In Japan alone, 4.6 million people are living with dementia. Experts say the number will rise significantly as the country continues to age rapidly.
"Prisons in Japan are full of elderly inmates suffering from dementia," said Koichi Hamai, a criminal justice expert and law professor at Ryukoku University in Kyoto. "The number of elderly prisoners is increasing and we have to take various measures to [address it]."
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | D-Keine