Mother on trial for suffocating 5-year-old son over Nintendo DS argument

Posted on October 7, 2013. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , |

 Oct. 05, 2013 -TOKYO —

A 42-year-old mother of four has gone on trial in Tokyo, accused of killing her five-year-old son.

Teary-eyed and clinging to a handkerchief as she spoke, Shizu Shigeta admitted that she had caused the death of her son, Koshi, after sealing him inside two plastic garbage bags and then falling asleep beside him while under the influence of sedatives and alcohol.

The mother, who had lived with her husband and children in Mejiro, Tokyo, listened as the prosecution recounted the events leading up to the tragic death of the kindergartener.

On the evening of Sept 1, 2012, allegedly feeling under pressure from work and suffering from lack of sleep, Shigeta was angered to find the living room floor of their family home littered with toys. Grabbing a garbage bag, she began tidying up, stuffing her son’s Nintendo DS in the bag in the process. She headed to bed soon after, hoping to sleep late the next day as it was a Sunday. As she had done on several nights prior to the incident, the seemingly troubled mother swallowed a sleeping pill, washing it down with a glass of shochu whiskey and water.

Despite taking the sedative, however, Shigeta woke twice in the night. Both times, she got up and took another sleeping pill, eventually dozing off and sleeping soundly until around 11 a.m. the next day.

When Shigeta rose the next morning, she found her third son, Koshi, in the living room already up and about. When his mother entered the living room, he immediately asked her for his missing Nintendo DS.

Like any good parent, Shigeta resolved to teach her son that it was not acceptable to spend his days simply doing exactly as he pleased and not tidying up after himself. Angered by her son’s tone and, she maintains, still drowsy from the pills she had taken, however, the mother’s response to her son’s request was far from normal.

“Would you rather breathe or play DS?” she asked the young boy.

Perhaps not sensing his mother’s tone, or, as many young boys do, simply refusing to cooperate after not getting his own way, Koushi replied, “I’d rather play DS.”

Further angered by his words, Shigeta grabbed the boy and bound his hands and feet with plastic twine, then covered both his mouth and eyes with tape. Finally, she pulled a garbage bag over the boy’s head and thrust his feet into another, drawing them together at his waist and sealing them shut.

“I intended to untie him once he’d apologised,” the mother later said. Whether this was indeed the case, it appears that Shigeta, still under the influence of the pills and alcohol she had swallowed, fell asleep again soon after binding her son, leaving him trapped in the bags and unable to breathe.

At 12:15 p.m., the boy’s father entered the room and discovered his son and wife. He tore the bags open, but Koshi was already unconscious. An ambulance was called and the boy was rushed to hospital, but sadly he was pronounced dead three days later. Cause of death: hypoxic encephalopathy, or brain damage caused by lack of oxygen.

Koshi is described in an Asahi Digital news report as having been a “lively kindergartener” whom his mother often doted on and seemingly had trouble disciplining. Shigeta, despite claiming to recall only “fragments” of the incident, admits to killing her son.

Taking into account the circumstances and acknowledging the fact that she appears so remorseful, the prosecution is currently asking that Shigeta serve a sentence of four years in prison.

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