Japanese National to Be Tried in LA Court For Conspiracy in Wife's Murder

Kazuyoshi Miura, a Japanese national accused of conspiracy in the slaying of his wife, was returned to Los Angeles on Friday to face trial. The case complicated by the fact that, in Japan, Miura has already been found not guilty in his wife's homicide.

Miura, 61, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before 5 a.m. on Continental Airlines Flight 12 from Honolulu. Miura's trip began in Saipan, where he had been in custody.

Kazumi Miura died just over a year after being shot in Los Angeles in 1981. She was 28.

Prosecutors filed court papers Thursday asking that a murder charge be reinstated against Miura.

Miura had been charged with murder and conspiracy in connection with the slaying, but Torrance Superior Court Judge Steven Van Sicklen ruled Sept. 26 that trying Miura for murder would constitute double-jeopardy since he had already been tried on that charge in Japan.

"However, because the defendant was not convicted or acquitted of the crime of conspiracy in Japan, the current prosecution on that charge may go forward," Van Sicklen wrote in an 18-page ruling issued after four court hearings that began in April.

 But in a 25-page motion filed on Thursday, Deputy District Attorneys Ricardo Ocampo and Alan Jackson contended that Van Sicklen misinterpreted the law. They argued that the section of law under which Miura was claiming double-jeopardy does not recognize convictions or acquittals outside of the United States.

Because of that, "Miura may only bar the current prosecution for murder if he can prove a former conviction or acquittal in a state or territory of the United States," the prosecutors wrote. "He cannot do so. Thus, the murder charge in count 1 must be reinstated."

Miura, who was arrested Feb. 21 in the U.S. commonwealth of Saipan in connection with an arrest warrant issued in 1988 in Los Angeles County, is scheduled to be arraigned on the conspiracy charge in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday.

A conviction for conspiracy to commit murder carries the same possible sentence as first-degree murder -- 25 years to life in state prison.

Kazumi Miura was shot in the head Nov. 18, 1981, in the 200 block of Fremont Avenue near the Los Angeles Civic Center while visiting the city with her husband, who was treated for a bullet wound to the leg. She was taken to Japan after the shooting and died there on Nov. 30, 1982, without regaining consciousness.

Miura is not suspected of pulling the trigger himself. The arrest warrant alleged Miura "gave a hand signal to an unknown person" to shoot his wife in the head with a .22-caliber gun, but authorities have not said who they believe pulled the trigger.

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

In a statement released in May 1988 after the murder and conspiracy charges were filed in Los Angeles, prosecutors alleged Miura collected about $750,000 from life insurance policies on his wife.

Prosecutors also allege Miura "solicited five different people to murder his wife," including the person who actually shot her.

Another one of those five conspirators struck her on the head with a metal object in a room at the New Otani hotel in downtown Los Angeles in August 1981, just three months before she was shot, according to the prosecution's court papers.

Miura was charged in 1985 with attempted murder in connection with that attack by authorities in Tokyo. He was convicted in August 1987 and sentenced to six years in prison.

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