'Black widow' Kakehi sentenced to death

Chisako Kakehi

Prosecutors said she targeted wealthy men who were mostly elderly or sick.

Sentenced to death by hanging for an old millionaire in Japan for the murders of three of his spouses and a murder attempt on a fourth.

Dubbed the "Black Widow" or "The Poison Lady", Kakehi was arrested in November 2014 over the death of her 75-year-old husband a month after they had married.

The Japan Times reports that Kakehi caused her husband and common law partners, all of whom were in their seventies, to drink cyanide, calling it a "health cocktail". She was later indicted in connection with the deaths of the two other men.

Kakehi has become notorious over accusations she dispatched a number of elderly men she was involved with, drawing comparisons with the spider that kills its mate after copulation.

The court underlined that Kakehi did not suffer dementia when she committed the last crime in December 2013.

A court-appointed physician said a year ago that Kakehi's case of dementia was mild and that she was fit to stand trial. For over ten years, she had amassed a fortune of one billion yen (7.6 million euros) in the form of life insurance, real estate and bank deposits, according to the press.

The ruling by the Kyoto District Court came despite a not guilty plea by the defense counsel of Chisako Kakehi, 70, citing a lack of physical evidence. But following his death in 1994, the business went bankrupt and her house was put up for auction, prompting her to ask neighbors for a loan.

In July, she confessed to having killed her fourth husband. They accused her of plotting her crimes well in advance, including helping to prepare notary documents linked to wills.

Another focal point was whether Kakehi bears criminal responsibility, as the defense claimed that she was suffering from dementia at the time of the incidents.

Judge Ayako Nakagawa called it "a heinous crime driven by greed for money". "The death sentence can not be avoided even after fully taking into account dementia and other factors", presiding Judge Ayako Nakagawa said in the ruling. She earned an inheritance of approximately 1bn yen (£6.88m, $8.84m) but now it has been said that she lost much of her wealth through financial trading.

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