A Japanese court on Friday upheld the death sentence for a woman dubbed the “Black Widow”, who used cyanide to kill a string of elderly and rich lovers and pocketed millions in insurance payouts and inheritance.
The Osaka High Court rejected an appeal by Chisako Kakehi, 72, to overturn her sentence of death by hanging for the murder of three men — including a husband — and the attempted murder of another, in a case that gripped Japan.
The cases drew worldwide attention and mainstream media began portraying Kakehi as a woman who preyed on rich and elderly men.
Kakehi became notorious after using poison to dispatch a number of elderly men she was involved with, drawing comparisons with the spider that kills its mate after copulation. The court “turned down the appeal” made by defence lawyers, according to a spokesman.
Her lawyers launched a final appeal, according to local news agency Jiji Press. Handing down the death sentence in 2017, presiding judge Ayako Nakagawa said the murders were “cunning and malicious” and Kakehi made her victims drink cyanide “with a murderous intention.”
The judge rejected defence arguments that she was not criminally liable because she was suffering from dementia. The trial lasted a marathon 135 days and captured the imagination of the Japanese public, with more than 560 people lining up for 51 seats in the courtroom.
The Poison Lady
Kakehi reportedly amassed one billion yen ($8.8 million) in payouts over 10 years but subsequently lost most of the fortune through unsuccessful financial trading. She had relationships with many men, mostly elderly or ill, meeting some through dating agencies, where she reportedly stipulated that prospective partners should be wealthy and childless.
The murders took place between the periods of 2007 to 2013, occurring in the Japanese cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo.
Kakehi, also known as “The Poison Lady”, is said to have stashed some of her cyanide in a plant pot she later threw out. The poison was found in the body of at least two of the men she was involved with and police reportedly found traces of cyanide in the rubbish at her Kyoto home.
They also found paraphernalia for administering drugs and medical books at an apartment she kept south of Kyoto. She initially refused to speak in court but then stunned observers by suddenly confessing to one of the murders, saying she had killed the man because he gave other women money while keeping cash from her.
Kakehi also said she was ready to hang, vowing to “die smiling.” In an interview with Jiji last month in the Osaka detention centre, Kakehi said “I apologise with my death. Please hang me.” A report by Japan Times states that the judge referred to the capsules laden with cyanide that Kakehi prepared for her victims, and observed that she committed premeditated murders.
Kakehi reportedly amassed one billion yen in payouts over 10 years but subsequently lost most of the fortune through unsuccessful financial trading.
He said, “The crimes were premeditated and she properly understood the situation.” Kakehi’s lawyer appeal the ruling since their client has pleaded not guilty. As per the ruling by the Osaka High Court, Kakehi murdered her 75-year old husband, Isao Kakehi, and common-law partners, including 71-year old Masanori Honda, 75-year old Minoru Hioki, and attempted to kill her 79-year old acquaintance Toshiaki Suehiro, by poisoning their drinks with cyanide.
The murders took place between the periods of 2007 to 2013, occurring in the Japanese cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo. The cases drew worldwide attention and mainstream media began portraying Kakehi as a woman who preyed on rich and elderly men.
Reports reveal that Kakehi was either married to or in a relationship with more than 10 men and inherited a staggering sum of ¥1 billion. However, despite her large inheritance, she fell in debts due to risky stock investments.
AFP with additional input and research by GVS News Desk.