Original article no longer available
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Feb. 21, 2006
A 23-year-old former part-time cram school teacher admitted during the first hearing of his trial at the Kyoto District Court on Monday that he stabbed a 12-year-old primary school girl to death at the cram school in December.
Yu Hagino, who was also a student of Doshisha University, said he regretted the crime. “I want to apologize to the girl and her parents from whom I took away the precious life of their child,” he said. “I’ll atone [for the crime] for the rest of my life.”
Hagino’s lawyer argued that Hagino has suffered from mental disorders, including hallucinations and delusions, and could not tell right from wrong at the time of the incident. The lawyer is likely to request in the next hearing at the earliest that Hagino undergo psychiatric tests.
Hagino is charged with murder and violation of the Firearms and Swords Control Law.
According to the indictment, Hagino killed Sayano Horimoto, a sixth-grader at Shinmei Primary School in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, by stabbing her in the neck and other parts of the body at about 9 a.m. on Dec. 10 in a classroom at Kyoshin Co.’s Uji Shinmei cram school in the city.
At the hearing, prosecutors said Hagino had first approached the seated girl from behind and tried to hit her with a hammer, but failed. He then stabbed her in the neck, head and face with a knife more than 10 times. Hagino then pushed her to the floor and then stabbed her at least three more times in the neck.
Prosecutors said Hagino’s relationship with the girl deteriorated after her parents complained about the way Hagino had treated Horimoto when she had an individual counseling session in May.
Hagino suspected that an anonymous complaint in a cram school questionnaire that said he was hard to understand came from Horimoto.
The prosecution insists Hagino began harboring hatred for Horimoto because he thought she was disrespectful.
The prosecution also said Hagino had a murderous intent after the cram school excluded him as an observer for student practical test on Dec. 1. Hagino premeditated the crime by wrapping his knives and a hammer in a towel so that they would not make a noise when he put them in a bag, according to the prosecution.
Hagino allegedly planned to commit the crime on Dec. 3, an examination day for sixth-graders, because there would be fewer teachers than usual at the school. He purchased two knives the day before, but did not commit the crime that day because Horimoto had already taken the test.
Hagino’s defense lawyer, however, insisted that he had received psychiatric treatment and was taking an antidepressant before he committed the crime.
The lawyer also said that Hagino had hallucinations that the girl had attacked him with a sword and had taken over his body. Although Hagino drew up a detailed plan for the murder, he never thought how he could escape from the scene and destroy evidence, the lawyer said.
At a press conference after the hearing, the lawyer said Hagino has stopped having hallucinations, but was suffering from an altered mental state at the time of the incident and needs psychiatric tests.