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Man suspected in 1981 slaying returned to L.A.

Japanese businessman is accused of plotting to kill his wife.

October 11, 2008|Molly Hennessy-Fiske | Times Staff Writer

Four Los Angeles police detectives returned Friday from Saipan with a Japanese businessman they had just taken into custody in connection with his wife's slaying 27 years ago in Los Angeles.

Kazuyoshi Miura, 61, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before 5 a.m. and was taken to police headquarters, where he was booked Friday, and will be held in the building's jail division during the holiday weekend. He is scheduled to be transferred to Central Jail on Tuesday and arraigned soon after, police said.

Det. Rick Jackson, who has been investigating Miura since 1988, was among the group who tracked him down and took him into custody. He was greeted at police headquarters this morning by a throng of reporters, many working for Japanese news outlets that have followed the high-profile case for decades.

"There were times over these 20 years that I thought I would never see him," Jackson said this morning, shortly after returning to police headquarters with Miura. "So it feels good."

During the trip, Jackson said Miura was "very cooperative," chatting with detectives about a black-and-white baseball cap he was wearing that read "Peace Pot Microdot," which he said he had bought in Saipan. Upon arrival, Miura said he was very tired, Jackson said. The detective would not say whether Miura had made any statements during the trip about the murder investigation.

Miura is accused of plotting to kill his wife, Kazumi Miura, 28, who was shot in the head while the couple were visiting downtown Los Angeles in November 1981. Miura was shot in the leg during the attack.

A judge issued a warrant for Miura's arrest in 1988, alleging murder and conspiracy, but detectives could not extradite him from Japan. Miura was convicted of murder in Japan in 1994 in connection with his wife's death, but the verdict was later overturned and he was acquitted.

"We would have prevailed if we had tried him here -- there was a lot of evidence," Jackson said. "I still think we will prevail."

In February, Miura wrote on his blog about plans to visit the U.S. territory of Saipan. He was arrested there on the 1988 warrant as he tried to return to Japan. Miura at first fought extradition, but last month he agreed to return to L.A. after a judge dismissed the murder charge as double jeopardy, given Miura's trial in Japan.

Prosecutors still believe Miura conspired to kill his wife and collect $750,000 in life insurance payments, possibly by signaling someone to shoot, although no one else has been charged in connection with the shooting.

On Thursday, county prosecutors filed for reinstatement of the murder charge, citing a 2004 change in state law that removed double jeopardy protection for those tried overseas. A hearing is set for Thursday.

Jackson noted that even if prosecutors do not prevail in reinstating the murder charge, Miura could still face 25 years to life in state prison if convicted of conspiracy.

Jackson and the other detectives arrived in Tokyo on Monday to meet with investigators they had been working with for years. They also met with Kazumi Miura's mother and accompanied her on a visit to her daughter's grave.

"That's what moves us in these cases. . . . " Jackson said. "We carry a torch for the victim. Kazumi Miura was a beautiful woman, and obviously her life ended way, way too soon."

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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