Attempt of 'Black Widow' to Claim Dementia Goes South

Japan's Supreme Court upholds death sentence for Chisako Kakehi, who murdered 3
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2021 8:42 AM CDT
Bad News for Japan's 'Black Widow'
This May 2014 photo shows Chisako Kakehi.   (Kyodo News via AP)

For nearly four years, Chisako Kakehi's legal team has been pushing back on her 2017 death sentence, arguing that the 74-year-old woman Japan knows as the "Black Widow" has dementia, rendering her incapable of understanding anything that's going on around her, including her own criminal trial. Those efforts have now been permanently quashed, with the nation's Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday that capital punishment in the case of Kakehi— who killed three men, including her husband, and tried to murder a fourth—is "unavoidable," CNN reports. Per public broadcaster NHK, Judge Yuriko Miyazaki noted in the ruling on the killings, which took place between 2007 and 2013, that Kakehi used a matchmaking agency "to get acquainted with elderly victims one after another and poisoned them after making them trust her." Miyazaki added, "It is a ruthless crime based on a planned and strong murderous intention," regardless of Kakehi's age or medical status.

Kakehi's MO would be to date elderly or sick men—who she specifically told matchmakers had to be wealthy and without children—after which several of them turned up poisoned by cyanide. Kakehi then collected about $9 million in insurance payouts over a 10-year-span, though AFP notes she lost most of it trying her hand in the stock market. Police started investigating when her husband died in 2013, after they'd only been married for a couple of months, and cyanide was discovered in his blood and stomach. Kakehi was arrested nearly a year later. Per the BBC, Kakehi had three other husbands who died, though she hasn't been charged in those cases. Kakehi is set to be put to death by hanging, though that date still isn't clear. (More Japan stories.)

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