Death-row inmate jailed for killing four people in 2002 dies of illness


A death-row inmate convicted of killing four people in 2002 has died of illness at a Tokyo detention center, the Justice Ministry said Sunday.

Tetsuo Odajima, 74, was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m. Saturday after losing consciousness. He had suffered esophageal cancer and been treated at the detention facility, the ministry said.

Odajima and an accomplice strangled the wife and daughter of Takaichi Mabuchi, who at the time was president of Mabuchi Motors, after breaking into their home in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, in August 2002.

After stealing hundreds of thousands of yen in cash and jewelry items, Odajima set fire to the house.

Odajima and Katsumi Morita also killed a 71-year-old dentist in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, in September 2002, and the wife of a discount ticket shop operator in Abiko, Chiba Prefecture, in November of that year in murder-robbery cases.

According to the ministry, Odajima was diagnosed with esophageal cancer around January this year. As he refused medical treatment, he had been receiving nutritional support and administered pain relief medication.

The Chiba District Court handed down the death penalty to Odajima in March 2007. Although he once appealed to a high court, he dropped the motion in November that year and the ruling was finalized.

The district court also sentenced Morita to death in December 2006, and the decision was upheld by the Tokyo High Court in March 2008.

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