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California Briefing / LOS ANGELES

Judge delays ruling in 1981 murder case

August 16, 2008|Ann M. Simmons

A hearing on a defense motion to dismiss murder and conspiracy charges against a Japanese national accused in his wife's 1981 slaying in downtown Los Angeles ended Friday without a ruling.

Torrance Superior Court Judge Steven Van Sicklen continued the case against Kazuyoshi Miura, now 61, who was found guilty of his wife's murder in Japan in 1994, but was later acquitted.

Mark Geragos, who is representing Miura, argued that his client can't be tried for the crime in the United States without unconstitutionally placing him in double jeopardy.

However, the prosecution, headed by David Jackson, countered that the crime of conspiracy does not exist in Japanese law and, therefore, Miura could still be prosecuted on this charge in California.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, August 17, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
Miura hearing: A brief in Saturday's California section on a hearing in the case of Kazuyoshi Miura, a Japanese businessman facing extradition to the U.S. for his alleged role in the 1981 slaying of his wife, identified prosecutor Alan Jackson as David Jackson.

Prosecutors allege that Miura staged his wife's killing on a Los Angeles street, claiming she had been shot by street thugs. Originally viewed as a "tragic hero" who personified every Japanese tourist's fear of being harmed in the United States' crime-ridden inner cities, Miura later was charged in Japan with masterminding the killing after suspicions rose that he had planned it to collect $650,000 in life insurance money.

As Los Angeles and Japanese police worked together, Miura was convicted of the crime by a Japanese court and sentenced to life in prison. But that decision was reversed by the Tokyo High Court in 1998 after a judge determined that the wife's assailant was unknown.

The current case against Miura hangs on the question of whether the charge of conspiracy exists in Japanese law. If Miura had not been charged with conspiracy in Japan, it would not be double jeopardy to try him under the California conspiracy law.

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