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Man Gets Life in Deaths of Wife and Daughter

Prosecutors say he wanted to clear the way for a new woman and children.

October 24, 2003|Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer

A Torrance man who had pleaded guilty to killing his wife and young daughter three years ago was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Kazumi Taga sat expressionless as Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler imposed the sentence and ordered him to pay restitution to cover the funeral costs.

The decomposing bodies of Yuriko Taga, 38, and Michelle Taga, 4, were found strapped together in the waters of Los Angeles Harbor in September 2000. Prosecutors said Taga had sent his family on a trip to Japan and brought another woman and her children to live with him. When his wife and daughter returned, he picked them up from the airport, killed them and dumped their bodies.

Taga was arrested in October 2000 and told authorities his wife had poisoned herself and their daughter.

Detective Rick Jackson said he believes Taga killed his family because he didn't want to have to pay alimony and wanted the condo that was in his wife's name. "Otherwise, why don't you go with the good, old-fashioned American divorce?" Jackson asked.

Deputy Public Defender Christopher G. Apostal said his client had pleaded guilty to avoid the possibility of a death sentence. "One of our principal goals in this case was to save his life," he said.

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