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A compact car in a parking lot in Akita. A man and a woman making love in the front seat. The woman's cry wakes the little boy sleeping in the back seat soon after. The boy thinks his mother is being attacked. He starts hitting the man. The lovers respond with fury. The result, according to Shukan Shincho magazine, was the start of a tragic incident that resulted in the discovery of 4-year-old Ryosuke Shindo's body in a rice paddy ditch.

A month after the discovery, Ryosuke's 32-year-old mother, Mika Shindo, and her lover, 44-year-old high school janitor Hiroshi Hatakeyama, were arrested for the boy's murder.

The mother's trial has recently opened in Akita.

"When Mika turned up in the courtroom, she had a real hangdog look on her face and she didn't focus her eyes on any particular point," a reporter covering the case for a local newspaper tells Shukan Shincho. "Mika and Ryosuke lived in Daisen, Akita Prefecture, with her common-law husband. The lover was frequently on business trips and away from the home. Mika was really lonely, so hooked up with Hatakeyama and they become lovers on the side."

Ryosuke's death occurred while Shindo's partner was on a business trip in neighboring Niigata Prefecture. On the day of the death, Mika and Ryosuke had gone for a drive with Hatakeyama, staying overnight at a love hotel. They stopped off in a cul-de-sac in Daisen. When the illicit lovers noticed the little boy had nodded off in the back seat, they began making love in the front seat of the car. And that's what triggered the events that led to Ryosuke's death.

"Ryosuke wouldn't stop crying because he thought his mother was being hurt, so Hatakeyama withdrew from Mika, who turned around and punched her little boy in the face," the reporter says. "Hatakeyama then jumped in, smashing a can of coffee into the boy's face any number of times, then throttling him until he stopped breathing."

Ryosuke was still breathing at this stage, but it wasn't going to last much longer.

"Hatakeyama was worried that he was going to get caught for bashing Ryosuke, so he convinced Mika to dump the boy. He told her that he was about to be made a full-time employee and that she could go and live with him as long as she promised not to tell anybody he was involved in the boy's injuries," the reporter tells Shukan Shincho. "Mika believed him and hurled Ryosuke into the rice paddy ditch and they left him there."

Shindo had a history of being used by men, including one fireman lover she tried to woo by setting a fire and ending up charged with arson. But it was a connection with another man that led directly to her arrest for Ryosuke's murder. The boy's body revealed a ring-shaped bruise on his face. It was a mark left from when Shindo had punched him. And the ring she wore at that time had been a present from her common-law husband.

The mom faces 15 years in prison. In demanding the 15-year prison sentence, public prosecutors described the crime as "unthinkable" and "self-centered."

During questioning of the defendant, Presiding Judge Toshiro Fujii showed the 32-year-old a photograph of her son soon after he was found dead, and asked her, "How do you feel now?" Bursting into tears, she replied, "I feel sorry." When the judge asked her to whom she felt sorry, she replied, "To Ryosuke."

Source: Mainichi Waiwai 


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