Japan's 'black widow' serial killer gets death sentence

A Japanese woman nicknamed the 'black widow' been sentenced to death for killing her husband and two others

A serial killer dubbed Japan's "black widow" received a death sentence Tuesday for the murders of her husband and two common-law partners, as well as the attempted murder of an acquaintance, between 2007 and 2013.

When they trusted her enough to make her the sole beneficiary of their assets, Chisako Kakehi would move in for the kill - like the venomous black widow spider that devours its partner after copulation.

The prosecution's case rested on a small bag of cyanide found in a plant pot that Kakehi had tried to discard.

Poison was found in the body of at least two men she was involved with, and police reportedly found traces of cyanide in rubbish at Kakchi's home.

During her trial, Kakehi maintained her innocence until July, when she made a surprise confession to killing her husband with poison.

Prosecutors said she used cyanide to rid herself of her lovers, amassing a reported one billion yen ($8.8 million) in payouts over 10 years.

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Kyoto District Court sentenced Kakehi for the murder of three men, including a husband. 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. They accused her of plotting her crimes well in advance, including helping to prepare notary documents linked to wills.

They have appealed against the death sentence, arguing that her dementia means she can not be held liable for her crimes. She had said later to the judges that she was ready to face the death penalty: "Even if I was being executed tomorrow, I would die with a smile ".

She registered with a matchmaking service to find wealthy men - she married or was associated with more than ten - and inherited more than £6m, but fell into debt, the newspaper reports.

Kakehi initially refused to speak when her trial began in June, but she later admitted to killing her husband over alleged unfair financial treatment.

While sentencing the old woman, presiding judge Akiko Nakagawa said: "It was an extremely malicious and sneaky crime borne out of greed for money". The 135-day trial was Japan's second-longest court case of its kind since 2009, when the nation instituted a judge-jury system.

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