Coroner: Prison Death of Japanese Businessman Was Suicide

The Los Angeles County coroner officially ruled Wednesday that a Japanese businessman who was found hanging in his jail cell while awaiting arraignment in connection with his wife's death committed suicide.

Kazuyoshi Miura, 61, was found hanging in his downtown Los Angeles cell about 9:45 p.m. Oct. 10, just hours after he arrived in the United States from Saipan, a U.S. territory Miura had been visiting when he was arrested in February. Miura, who was still dressed in street clothes, was pronounced dead at County-USC Medical Center.

According to the coroner's report released today, Miura died by hanging, and his death was ruled to be a suicide.

"Anatomical findings show no other evidence of fatal trauma," according to a statement from the coroner's office.

Miura's attorney, Mark Geragos, had questioned the contention that his client committed suicide, suggesting he may have met with foul play. He said he had hired an independent pathologist to examine the body, and claimed Miura suffered wounds consistent with a choking and beating.

Geragos could not be reached for immediate comment on the coroner's report.

Los Angeles police officials insisted that Miura had not met with any foul play.

Police said Miura was the only inmate in the cell, which had a three- to four-foot-high concrete wall and mesh with plastic and glass. The cell and surrounding area are not equipped with surveillance cameras.

"The only way to gain entrance to that cell is to have a key to enter. There was no other access but through the front door," LAPD Deputy Chief Mark Perez said about a week after Miura died.

Miura was not on suicide watch. A suicide note was not found.

A jailer checked on Miura at 9:35 p.m. Oct. 10. About 10 minutes later, an inmate alerted a guard that he heard a noise coming from Miura's cell. Perez said he did not know if Miura was alive when authorities entered his cell and saw him hanging by a piece of his shirt.

Miura had arrived at Los Angeles International Airport early Oct. 10, accompanied by Los Angeles police detectives. Miura arrived at Parker Center before 6 a.m. that day and was housed alone in his cell pending arraignment on
a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

Miura's wife Kazumi was shot in the head near downtown Los Angeles in 1981, then was moved to Japan, where she died the next year at age 28.

Miura was tried for his wife's murder in Japan and found guilty in 1994, but the conviction was reversed and "an acquittal was entered by the High Court in Japan," according to court papers filed by Geragos in March.

In February, Miura wrote on his blog that he planned to visit Saipan, where he was arrested on a 1988 warrant as he tried to return to Japan. He at first fought extradition, but in September he agreed to return to Los Angeles after Torrance Superior Court Judge Steven Van Sicklen dismissed a murder charge against him. The judge ruled that trying him for murder would constitute double jeopardy, since Miura had been tried on that charge in Japan.

Miura was scheduled to be arraigned on the conspiracy charge Oct. 14 and faced a possible sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. 

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