Funahashi Ryuichi Sentenced To 9-13 Years For Murder Of Ryota Uemura

Funahashi Ryuichi Murdered Ryota Uemura

The Yokohama District Court on Wednesday handed down a sentence of nine to 13 years in prison to 19-year-old, Funahashi Ryuichi, for playing a key role in the murder of 13 year old, Ryota Uemura, on a riverbank in Kawasaki, southwest of Tokyo, last year.

In giving the so-called indeterminate sentence as stipulated under Juvenile Law, Presiding Judge Hiroko Kondo highlighted the cruelty of the way Ryota Uemura was assaulted and killed by Funahashi, who had previously been a part of the same peer group.

“The victim’s neck was slashed more than once and he was forced to swim in the river in the middle of winter. This was just so appalling and the cruelty (of the case) stands out,” the judge said.

She also determined that Funhashi “bore the heaviest responsibility” for playing a leading role.

Funahashi had pleaded guilty to the charges in his trial, determined by a panel of professional and citizen judges.

The father of the victim, who was a first-year junior high school student, issued a statement after the court decision, saying, “I cannot accept it by any means. The sentence is way too light.”

Two other 18-year-old boys, Higuchi Toshio and Shibayama Kazuka, have also been arrested over their involvement in the case, but have been indicted on the lesser charge of causing injury resulting in death. Their trials will begin later.

According to the ruling, the Funahashi killed Uemura on Feb 20, 2015 by repeatedly slashing his throat on the banks of the Tama River in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. A total of 43 knife wounds were inflicted on Uemura’s body, including 31 to the neck during the assault, which lasted more than an hour.

The ruling said the killing occurred after Funahashi got angry with Uemura because he told his friends that he was struck by the Funahashi on Jan 17, 2015. The Funahashi felt pressured because Uemura’s friends came to his home after the January assault.

The judge said Funahashi had a “misdirected resentment” against Uemura and he was “extremely self-centered” in that he came up with the idea of killing Uemura after he started assaulting him with the two others at the riverbank, fearing he might be arrested for injuring the victim.

Prosecutors had demanded a sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison saying he played the leading role in the murder, while his defense counsel pleaded for five to 10 years, citing the possibility of reformation.

The defense counsel also insisted that Funahashi did not have “a strong intention to kill,” but the judge rejected the argument, saying, “he continued to attack the victim with the accomplices until the victim died.”

The judge, however, said the defendant’s “immaturity” of allowing violence can largely be attributed to the environment he was brought up in and that warrants lessening his responsibility.

Dallas Brincrest and Charles Gannon

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