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An Elderly Man With Alzheimer's Killed His Granddaughter. He Says He Has No Recollection Of It.

An Elderly Man With Alzheimer's Killed His Granddaughter. He Says He Has No Recollection Of It.

Susumu Tomizawa, 88, from Fukui City, Japan repeatedly stabbed his granddaughter after an altercation with her but claims he doesn't remember anything about it.

In an argument gone awry, the peaceful city of Fukui witnessed a shockingly violent crime. Susumu Tomizawa, an 88-year-old Alzheimer's patient repeatedly stabbed his 16-year-old granddaughter, Tomomi Tomizawa, on the night of September 9, 2020, reports CNN. While Tomizawa claims that he has no recollection of the incident, police arrived on the scene soon after and arrested the elderly man.



 

The perpetrator was reportedly arguing with his granddaughter when he brought out a 17-centimeter-long kitchen knife from a storage unit in his house and went into her bedroom. According to Japan Today, after repeatedly stabbing the victim in the neck, Tomizawa called his son and told him that the girl had fallen down the stairs and been knocked unconscious. Although Tomomi's father called the police and sought medical attention for her, she was pronounced dead at the hospital. Tomizawa made no comment regarding the stabbing at the time.

While standing for trial in a court in western Japan last month, the perpetrator pled not guilty, citing his Alzheimer's and his then-drunken state as a plea for insanity. Tomomi is said to have moved in with her grandfather in July 2020, explaining to a neighbor that her parents "always fight." But she was planning on moving out of her grandfather's place too as she wasn't getting along with him either. This was when the murder occurred. The jarring crime came as a shock to the residents of Fukui—a city of 760,209 people—who rarely see violent crimes, reports VICE.



 


In light of Tomizawa's insanity plea, the court asked doctor Hiroki Nakagawa to conduct a psychiatric evaluation. He concluded that while Tomizawa's past medical records proved that he did have Alzheimer's, it could not have been the reason for his outburst on Tomomi. "He had a motive for committing the crime, such as quarreling with Tomomi, and his actions were purposeful and consistent with his intent to kill, as he stabbed her in the neck," said Nakagawa. 

Tomizawa's mental illness became a point of contention during the trial with doctors, lawyers and judges severely questioning whether or not this crime was committed knowingly. Prosecutors pointed out that he "possessed the ability to judge right and wrong," despite his illness and had the ability to control his reactions. The court ultimately acknowledged the offender's mental condition but also noted that it couldn't excuse the severity of the crime. Tomizawa was offered a reduced sentence of four and a half years as punishment whereas Japanese courts generally punish murders with the death penalty or life imprisonment, the minimum sentence of which is five years.



 

While this kind of crime is exceedingly rare, it is reminiscent of an old case from 2014 where a 72-year-old man with dementia strangled an 82-year-old woman to death in a hospice. He too received a reduced sentence of three years due to his condition. This points to a new problem on the horizon, namely the increasing centenarian population in Japan and the number of dementia patients in prisons. "Prisons in Japan are full of elderly inmates suffering from dementia," said Koichi Hamai, a criminal justice expert and law professor at Ryukoku University in Kyoto. "The number of elderly prisoners is increasing and we have to take various measures to [address it]."

Image Source: Japanese population chart 1870-2100 via Wikimedia Commons

 

Susumu Tomizawa lived in a prefecture where every third person is over the age of 65. There aren't many details available on their personal lives but caregivers and family members often face aggression and violence, observers revealed. Jacob Rajesh, a senior forensic psychiatrist at the Promises Healthcare facility in Singapore, noted that "dementia patients are known to act out against the people looking after them, the ones closest to them." He also mentioned that patients like Susumu Tomizawa must be taken care of and monitored regularly at home, which in this case he wasn't getting.

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