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Furlong’s Friend Testifies: Does it Help or Hurt the Case?

testimony
Nicola Furlong’s best friend gave testimony about the events surrounding the tragic night Ms. Furlong died.

Via the Irish Times: “Speaking via a video link, the witness said she had been friends with Ms Furlong since school and they were studying together at a university outside Tokyo at the time of her death.”

It is now common-knowledge that Ms. Furlong and her friend attended a Nicki Minaj concert and later hit Shibuya for a night of partying.

Zepp Tokyo

Zepp Tokyo

Black Tokyo initially presented a timeline of the events surrounding the fateful morning that Ms. Furlong lost her life. Key were the events leading up to Ms. Furlong and her friend visiting Shibuya. Black Tokyo stated that a conscious decision would need to be made by the pair to either return to their city after the concert and before the last train or stay in Tokyo and take an early train home the following morning.

The majority of the press stated that the women “missed their last train” but it is now known via testimony of Ms. Furlong’s friend that: “They told the men they planned to stay up all night and catch the first train back to Takasaki the following morning,” according to the Irish Examiner. Why is this fact important? Simple, Black Tokyo saw the spin being created and the direction that some of the press were heading in reporting the events surrounding Ms. Furlong’s death and the quasi-forcible indecency charge levied against the American men regarding actions recorded while the four took a taxi to the Keio Plaza Hotel.

Is this investigation into the rest of story done in defense of the American men? No, it’s done in the hopes that the two women and two men involved in this incident have their right to a fair and unbiased trial in a land foreign in ways other than just proximity. At the end of it all, a woman, Ms. Furlong, has unfortunately lost her life. It is important to get to the truth. Her family, her friend’s family and the family of the two American men on trial all need closure in order to begin with the next phase. With that said, we can now expect his version, her version and the truth in some form or fashion to come out during the trial. The same can be expected with the press, blogs and twitterverse in examining the details that led to Ms. Furlong’s demise. Now let’s examine some of the trial testimony!

Black Tokyo previously reported the following concerning Ms. Furlong and her friend’s state of being:

“According to various reports in the Japanese press- “so drunk that they could hardly walk” heading to, being pushed in or carried to a taxi.”

Since it was reported in various press reports that the women were drugged (with a date rape drug) and carried, bundled or pushed into a taxi in Shibuya, Black Tokyo looked deeper into why the women could have been in such a drunken or drugged state in such a short amount of time. Black Tokyo also reported:

“The Nicki Minaj concert was held on May 23, 2012. Doors opened at 6:00 p.m. and the show was scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m at Zepp Tokyo located in Tokyo’s Odaiba area.

There is no food available in the facility, but drinks are served (beer and whiskey being the most popular).” Source

Typically concerts at Zepp Tokyo last 2-3 hours based on my experience attending shows and accompanying artists.”

It was also previously reported that Ms. Furlong’s friend could not remember much of what happened the night Ms. Furlong died.

“The young woman has had trouble recalling much of the events of the night and may have to return to Japan as the investigation continues. “She probably witnessed (much of what happened) but she can’t remember it for some reason.” via the Independent

The Irish Times reported: “A source close to the family says the woman, also from Co Wexford, remembers little about the attack.”

Apparently, the friend’s current video testimony refutes previous reports that she could not remember based on what was revealed during cross-examination of the witness. Early on in the investigation, Black Tokyo reported the following concerning the women’s state of being:

According the source, “when they realized Nicola was unconscious, the police and ambulance were called. Everyone came out to see what was going on. The other girl (XO) knew where she was just really “out of it”.”

According to different source, “the other girl [reportedly XO] was still visibly groggy, even during the police questioning.”

According to the source, “it looks like the girls went to the club before the guys (allegedly XX and Blackstone) and had already started drinking.”

Many questioned why Black Tokyo focused on events leading up to a night of partying in Shibuya and question whether Ms. Furlong’s friend had selective memory. Now that date rape drugs have been ruled out as the cause of Ms. Furlong’s death and therefore the previously assumed drugged state of Ms. Furlong’s friend, the accused’s defense team turned their focus on alcohol. A focus that will probably test Ms. Furlong’s friend’s credibility now that her memory has improved.

According to the Irish Examiner:

The defence team suggested the two women had blacked out after excessive drinking before and during a Nicki Minaj concert they had attended in the Japanese capital and after at the Scramble café bar with the two men.

The amount of alcohol consumed by the women plays a factor in looking at the physical and mental state of both women prior to and after the concert and in events leading up to the women, women with boyfriends back in Ireland, being in separate hotel rooms with the two American men currently on trial.

Black Tokyo will make it crystal-clear to those that may try to spin the above statement… It does not matter whether Ms. Furlong and her friend (or any other woman) were sober or drunk, if they become victims of a criminal act, the act and the person(s) should be thoroughly investigated and if the person(s) charged are subsequently found guilty, a just punishment must be meted.

As Black Tokyo commented last year:

“By no means is Black Tokyo (BT) blaming the women. Try that somewhere else! BT is not stating ANY claim or should I say, FACT besides the point that one young lady has lost her life and the another young lady was sexually assaulted during a taxi ride according to the Japanese National Police Agency.

What BT is doing and will continue to do, is share additional details, questions and motives that others have conveniently decided to ignore.

The Irish Examiner reported:

“Ms Furlong and her friend had prepared five 500ml bottles and one 650ml bottle of vodka mixed with orange juice, which they had taken with them to the concert from their apartment in Takasaki, about 100km north of Tokyo.

The bottles had contained about one-third vodka and two-thirds juice, the woman said. However, they had drunk fewer than four of them, as two had been confiscated at the door and another was only partially consumed, she said.

What’s more, she could only remember consuming two shots of tequila at Scramble, she said, adding that it was following the second that her memory of the night ends.”

So let’s hypothesize that the 650ml bottle and one of the 500ml bottles of vodka mixed with orange juice were the two bottles confiscated at the door. That means that Ms. Furlong and her friend would have consumed three 500ml bottles and an unknown partial amount of a fourth bottle during the trip from Takasaki to the Tokyo Zepp concert venue. A trip that takes from an hour to a little over an hour and a half. Victim A testified: “After having something to eat, they headed to the venue in Tokyo’s Odaiba district at about 6.30pm, drinking one of their home-made cocktails, she said.” Last year Black Tokyo reported: “Doors opened at 6:00 p.m. and the show was scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m at Zepp Tokyo located in Tokyo’s Odaiba area.”

This follows what was reported by the Independent.ie:

She said they each drank about 750ml of a cocktail that was two-thirds orange juice and one-third vodka.

She also said that they had drunk a cassis and soda at the concert they attended on the evening of May 23rd and that she had drunk two tequilas in a bar that she had gone to with Ms Furlong, the accused and his friend James Blackston.

Ms. Furlong’s friend further stated that she lost consciousness while drinking with the men. “All I remember is is having the second shot and after that I don’t remember anything.” The Independent.ie reported that “It is not clear how the women became unconscious within a short time. Evidence given yesterday about blood tests appeared to rule out the suspicion that their drinks were spiked.”

Ms. Furlong’s friend, referred to as Victim A, further testified when asked if she had ever lost consciousness before:

“…that on one occasion, she had drunk too much at a party and had forgotten temporarily where she had left her shoes, but had never experienced a blackout from alcohol. She also said that neither she nor Nicola ever took drugs that would have made them unconscious.”

According to Dr. Kenichi Yoshida, an expert in forensic medicine, “the blood test results also showed that the alcohol level in Ms Furlong’s blood was 2.14mg of alcohol per 1ml of blood. The doctor further stated that this was not high enough to be a factor in her death and “in this case it is very clear the cause of death was due to strangulation,” he told the court, according to the Independent.ie.

Ms. Furlong’s best friend, Victim A, also testified:

“I find it very difficult to believe I was unconscious for so long” solely as a result of alcohol, she said, after describing how she had lost consciousness for several hours after drinking with the men. “I can only think it’s because something was put in the drink.”

“…she gave a urine sample to police the morning after Nicola’s death and a blood sample to medics at Tokyo Medical University Hospital later that day. She confirmed she hadn’t been told that “any drugs were found in my system” but added: “I understand that there are a lot of drugs available and you have to test for these individually and that may not have been done. “I believe there were drugs that were not detected.”

The Irish Examiner reported that Victim A was: “Asked by Mr Hinds’s defence team why she thought tests administered by police and hospital medical staff on the unidentified Irishwoman had revealed no traces of drugs, the woman replied that she accepted the results. However, she believed there were many drugs for which she had not been tested. “But that’s just my opinion,” she said.”

std_drink

Is it safe to hypothesize that Victim A may have been in a similar state of drunkenness since Ms. Furlong’s blood sample which had shown an alcohol level of 2.14mg of alcohol per 1ml of blood? A level, according to expert testimony, is just over four times the permissible limit for driving in Ireland! Maybe, just maybe, this is why she lost consciousness.

To work out the number of standard drinks in what you are drinking use this formula:

Amount of drink in litres (Vol) x Percent by volume of alcohol (%) x Density of ethanol at room temperature (0.789). “One standard drink equals 10 grams of pure alcohol.”

Again, let’s hypothesize that the bottles were opened during the train ride. That means that the two women would have had approximately 1500 ml of a mix of one-third vodka and two-thirds juice or 500 ml of 40 proof or higher vodka between them, not including the unknown amount of the fourth bottle consumed. It is not known if this was Japanese vodka known as “shochu” which is a clear beverage distilled from grain, barley, sweet potatoes, or buckwheat. In terms of taste, shochu resembles vodka. Shochu has an alcohol content of between 20 and 40 percent by volume. To put that in perspective, most vodkas are 80 proof, meaning they contain 40 percent alcohol by volume.

If the shochu was mixed with juice to make “chuhai” (shortened from “shochu highball”) which are fruit-flavored alcoholic drinks with an alcohol content typically between 5-8 percent and is a very common drink in Japan, especially among younger women due to the low-calorie count. A one-third vodka and two-thirds mix of vodka (or shochu) and OJ mix would be higher than canned shochu sold in most conveniences stores and many vending machines in Japan. Victim A also testified “that they had drunk a cassis and soda at the concert they attended on the evening of May 23rd.” It is not known if the two bottles of vodka and orange juice taken from the women at Zepp Tokyo were returned to them after the concert.

Note: Adults normally have a total blood volume of 7% to 8% of body weight, or 70 mL/kg of body weight for men and about 65 mL/kg for women. Source. So if there are 65mL/kg in the human body per female. and if Ms. Furlong’s weighed 60kg or 132 lbs., there would be 4,200mL of blood in her body.

According to Ireland’s National Police Service:

“The drink drive limit came down in line with European levels on the 28th October 2011, the current limit drop from 80 milligrams (mg) to 50 milligrams (mg) for all drivers and from 80 milligrams (mg) to 20 milligrams (mg) for learner, newly qualified drivers (for a period of two years after passing the driving test) and professional drivers such as bus, goods vehicle and public service vehicle drivers (PSV).” Source

In using Victim A’s testimony and assuming that Ms. Furlong weighed 60kg the following is plausible:

Japanese Train Route
With each woman drinking: “750ml of a cocktail that was two-thirds orange juice and one-third vodka,” which they had taken with them to the concert from their apartment in Takasaki, about 100km north of Tokyo.

“Takasaki is a stop on the Joetsu Shinkansen and Nagano Shinkansen lines, and is a hub for the JR Takasaki, Hachiko, Ryomo, Joetsu and Shin-etsu lines. Frequent Shinkansen services depart Tokyo station for Takasaki every 15-30 minutes, with more frequent departures for the evening rush. You can reach Takasaki in about one hour, at a cost of ¥4800. Regular trains on the Takasaki Line depart from Ueno station 2-3 times per hour, reaching Takasaki in about 2 hours at a cost of ¥1890.”

Assuming that the women took either the local train or Shinkansen (bullet train) (to estimate the amount of time it took the women to drink 750ml of their mixed-drink and not including the drink or drinks purchased at the concert), the women would have have a blood alcohol content (BAC) upon arrival to Tokyo Zepp of either:

0.057 g/100 ml (if they took the local train): Effect: “You’re probably feeling a bit relaxed or you might have a feeling of “well-being” or euphoria (feeling really good or really positive). You might feel a bit warmer than you usually do. Your behavior might be a bit exaggerated or your emotions might be a bit intensified. You’re probably feeling some impairment of reasoning and memory and since your level of caution is lower, it’s a bad idea to drive.” Source

ChartAxd-local

or close to 0.07 (if they took the Shinkansen or bullet-train): Effect: “Although you can definitely tell you’ve been drinking, and you’re probably aware that you’re feeling some effects of alcohol, you might believe that you’re more alert than you really are. In reality, with a BAC of 0.07 – 0.09 you’ll be experiencing a slight impairment of speech, balance and hearing and your reaction time is reduced. Your caution, reasoning and memory are impaired, and your judgment and level of self-control are reduced.”

ChartAxd-1

So, as shown on the charts above, and assumed that Ms. Furlong weighed 60 kg, the estimated time to burn alcohol for a 60 kg Female with a BAC of 0.048 is 3-hours (if they took a local train and consumed their mixed-drinks on the train) or 4-hours if the Shinkansen was used. As discovered during the trial, Ms. Furlongs’s friend explained how the two had made the two-hour train ride from Takasaki for their third trip to Tokyo.

Remember, Ms. Furlong autopsy results show: “Blood from Ms Furlong had shown an alcohol level of 2.14mg of alcohol per 1ml of blood, the court was told — a level just over four times the permissible limit for driving in Ireland.” So if the legal BAC limit is 0.05 to 0.07 percent in certain rural areas in Ireland and assuming that Ms. Furlong’s friend would have similar BAC test results, over four times the permissible limit would equate to:

BAC 0.20
“If your BAC is 0.20, you’ll probably need help if you want to walk properly. If you fall down you probably won’t feel a lot of pain – even if you hurt yourself. At this level of BAC, some people begin to vomit. At the very least, you’ll feel dazed, confused and disoriented. Note: At this point your gag reflex will be impaired. This means that if you’re lying down and you vomit, you could choke and die.

Remember, “according to various reports in the Japanese press- “so drunk that they could hardly walk” heading to, being pushed in or carried to a taxi.”

BAC 0.16 – 0.19
You’ll probably start to feel sick to your stomach. Any euphoria (feeling really good or really positive) you had earlier will have turned to dysphoria (an emotional state of agitation, unease or depression). Right now you might look like a “sloppy drunk”.

BAC 0.21 – 0.30 (Ms. Furlong’s BAC was in this range if four times the legal limit in Ireland)
If you were awake at this point you’d have very little comprehension as to where you were or what you were doing. You might pass out suddenly and it’d be hard to wake you up.”
Source

Victim A testified: “All I can remember is having the second shot in the bar and after that I don’t remember anything. “I remember waking up. I was lying on chairs. I have a picture of Nicola being put into an ambulance, I don’t have anything else.”

The accused in Ms. Furlong’s death has repeated stated: “I do not believe I was the cause of her death,” Hinds told the court. “I had no intent or reason to hurt, harm or kill her.”

So, it is plausible that the women had an estimated BAC of .057 to .07 at the time of arrival to Zepp Tokyo and, as delivered in testimony by Victim A, they “had drunk fewer than four” bottles of their vodka and juice cocktail (remember two of the bottles had been confiscated at the door which BT assumes to have been one 500 ml and one 650 ml bottle). The BAC could have higher after the concert since the women had a cassis and soda (it is assumed one drink at this point) at the concert they attended on the evening of May 23rd, and later two tequila shots in Shibuya.

Overall, alcohol during an hour and half train ride (estimate), a beverage (or two) at the concert, possibly the remainder of the vodka and juice mix after the concert (if the bottles were returned) and two shots of tequila are known to have been consumed (there reportedly was a vodka and Red Bull ordered at the club, as well). Black Tokyo opines that the amount of alcohol consumed is more than a sufficient cause for the women to blackout UNLESS drugs were involved (Victim A’s urine sample proved otherwise and Ms. Furlong had her prescribed Xanax in her system). Did Victim A express surprise at blacking out because she had a high tolerance for alcohol? Is it important? Maybe, especially since the remainder of her testimony and credibility will come into play.

Be sure to check out the next story dealing with Ms. Furlong’s toxicology report and the doctors testimonies.

The following BT’ers contributed to BT’s reporting of the Nicola Furlong death investigation: @blacktokyo, @onmugen @starrwulfe @ogPegasus303

Have inquiries, an opinion or rant? Feel free to join the discussion via Disqus below.

Click here for additional Black Tokyo posts on the investigation into the death of Nicola Furlong.

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2 comments on “Furlong’s Friend Testifies: Does it Help or Hurt the Case?”

  1. Electra

    Interesting analysis. Strange how little media attention this case is getting. From day one I have thought this man is innocent, but there are a lot of contradictions. He says he had sex with Nicola, but I believe the doctors say she had not had sex? I can’t think that either side have any reason to lie about that. The “friend” has plenty of reason to lie, she has a boyfriend and family to whom she is not going to admit a random hookup.

    The Irish papers report on this only from the angle that these girls were innocent babies – I suspect that is far from the truth.

    • Zurui

      Yes, the physical evidence against the American minor is strong and the doctor called as a defense witness agree with the prosecution’s doctor that the cause of death was strangulation. I am curious to know if they will discuss the strangulation in more detail.

      Regarding the other American charged with indecent assault, this seems like a cut and dry case. I have not found information regarding Victim A claiming that she was being held against her will or assaulted at the hotel. However, since she had BAC four times the legal limit in Ireland, she definitely wasn’t in a coherent state. The strongest charge is for the sexual assault in the taxi. The penalties for that type of assault have widely varied in Japan.

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