The trial continues in Courtroom 416 of Tokyo’s District Court. It is now known that the defendant and Mr. Blackston were “caught on CCTV in a taxi laughing about having sex with an unconscious Nicola Furlong and her unnamed friend.
THE CHARGES LEVIED AGAINST THE ACCUSED MINOR IN NICOLA FURLONG’S DEATH:
“Charged that between 3am and 3.25am on the morning of May 24 he had, with intention to kill, strangled Nicola Rose Furlong using a towel or something similar, causing her death.” (via thestar.ie)
THE MINOR’S STATEMENT:
“I accept that she was in the room and that I did press lightly on her neck.”
“I did not use an object or a towel. I do not believe that I was the cause of her death because the pressure was too light.
“There was no resistance from her. I had no intent, motive or reason to hurt, harm or kill her.”
“The duty manager at the Keio Plaza hotel, Takuya Niwano, told the court that he used a wheelchair to carry an unconscious Nicola from the lobby of the hotel to the accused’s room — and then helped Hinds lift her onto a bed.
Approximately two hours later at 3.22am he returned to the room following a noise complaint from a neighbouring hotel guest.” Source
HE (THE ACCUSED) SAID, SHE (NICOLA’S FRIEND, VICTIM A) SAID
HE: “Counsel claimed Nicola and her friend had talked to his client first and that all four had then travelled to the Scramble Bar where the girls drank three tequilas each and a vodka and Red Bull paid for by Blackston.” (via thestar.ie)
SHE: “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.” 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.”(click here for more)
HE: “told the court that at some stage during their time in the bar between 11.15pm and 12.23am Nicola had fallen in the bathroom and had started to go to sleep. He “had then brought her back to his hotel where he placed her in a bed as he started to pack to leave Tokyo the following day.” (via thestar.ie)
SHE: “The men said we could stay at their hotel. We strongly said ‘no’. We have boyfriends and we didn’t want to stay with them.”
Asked why they nevertheless accepted an offer by the men to show them a bar in the nightclub area of Shibuya, she said: “They were so friendly it didn’t feel dangerous at all. We were going to a public place. We had no intention of hanging around with these two men.”” (via theirishtimes.com)
As described in a previous post, Ms. Furlong (and potentially Victim A) had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) that was over four times the legal limit.
“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!”(click here for more)
Black Tokyo reported that the two women could have had a BAC of 0.057 upon arrival to the concert venue based on Victim A’s testimony that she and Ms. Furlong consumed 750 ml of vodka and orange juice prior to arriving at the station where the concert venue, Zepp Tokyo, is located. According to Victim A, the women apparently shared a fourth 500 ml bottom of their mixed drink at approximately 6:30 p.m. after getting a bite to eat. Victim A also testified that the women had a drink at the concert venue. They potentially had additional drinks after leaving the concert venue and prior to their arrival in Shibuya. Although, Victim A remembered the two shots of tequila and then passing out, it is apparent that the amount of alcohol consumed between 3:41 p.m. (when the last local train left the women’s home station for them to arrive at the venue with enough time to eat) and 11:15 p.m. (the time the accused testified Ms. Furlong fell in the bathroom) was more than enough to register an extremely high BAC.
Black Tokyo estimated that the women arrived at the station closest to Zepp Tokyo at 5:15 p.m. Victim A testified that they left the restaurant at approximately 6:30. The accused testified that between 11.15pm and 12.23am Nicola had fallen in the bathroom and had started to go to sleep. The prosecutor charged the accused of strangling Ms Furlong “between 3am and 3.25am” and the doctor examining Ms. Furlong gave a BAC of 2.14mg of alcohol per 1ml of blood based on the autopsy. If the autopsy revealed a BAC of 0.214 at Ms. Furlong’s time of death or some hours after, it is plausible that both women had a higher BAC prior while at the club or at the Keio Plaza Hotel.
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.
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
Even if the women consumed eight standard drinks (based on testimony) between the hours of 4 p.m. and 11 p.m., that would give them an estimate BAC of 0.1 g/100 ml in Ireland which means it would take an estimated time of 6.5 hours to burn alcohol for a 60 kg Female with a BAC of 0.1. If Ms. Furlong’s BAC was four times the legal BAC limit in Ireland that means her friend’s testimony does not add up in regards to the amount of alcohol consumed the day of the concert as this would indicate binge drinking. Source
HE: “claimed at some stage Nicola had woken up and placed her hand on the defendant’s penis and the pair had sex. “claimed defendant refused to have sex with Nicola a second time, the 21-year-old had started shouting and become annoyed and had put his hand on Nicola’s throat to stop her shouting.” (via thestar.ie)
In examining another case where a woman died with a 0.29 BAC, it was revealed:
“You can choke on a little bit of spit, you can drown in a little bit of water. It does not take a lot to block an airway, and it is unclear whether or not the autopsy can always tell that.”
“The timing of the blood sample is an issue, because it could be on its way up (or down). “So the relationship of the blood sample to the actual blood level at the time of death can be uncertain.” Source
Could Ms. Furlong’s airway have been blocked at the time when the accused covered her mouth? Could the BAC have been higher? Is binge-drinking a possible reason why both women blacked out? Are these questions important during the cross-examination? The doctor’s testimony below provides some of the answers.
AUTOPSY DOCTOR: “The blood test results also showed that the alcohol level in Ms Furlong’s blood was 2.14mg of alcohol per 1ml of blood, a level characterised in testimony yesterday by Dr Kenichi Yoshida, an expert in forensic medicine as not high enough to be a factor in her death. “in this case it is very clear the cause of death was due to strangulation,” he told the court.”[Independent.ie]
Dr. Yoshida further testified:
[Independent.ie] During yesterday’s evidence an expert in forensic medicine told how Nicola suffered a long and painful death.
“She didn’t die quickly. It took minutes and she died in great distress,” Dr Kenichi Yoshida told Tokyo District court.
He also said that Ms Furlong would have fought back, pointing to autopsy photographs of “scratch marks and abrasions that could have been caused by the victim herself when she was struggling to resist strangulation by the assailant.”
He ruled out any other cause of death, adding, “she didn’t just die, she was killed,” he said.
Dr Yoshida also said that a soft object such as a rolled-up towel or item of clothing was likely used to kill the 21-year-old student from Wexford.
Ms Furlong’s DNA was found on a towel and a tank top in Mr Hinds’ room in Tokyo’s Keio Plaza hotel where Ms Furlong was killed.
Dr Yoshida said that the autopsy showed internal bleeding in several places and that there was a 5cm wide mark going around her neck where she was choked.
It was also revealed that “bloodstains which DNA tests later identified as Nicola’s were found on a bedsheet, towel and clothing and in the bathroom of the hotel suite.” Since Ms. Furlong reportedly fell in the Scramble Bar bathroom, is it possible that she hit her face and other parts of her body on the sink, toilet or other item in the bathroom therefore causes the blood and the bruises.
BAC = .18-.25 = Drinkers are disoriented, confused, dizzy, and have exaggerated emotional states. Vision is disturbed, as is perception of color, form, motion, and dimensions.
Drinkers have increased pain threshold and lack of muscular coordination. Drinkers stagger or lose the ability to walk and have slurred speech. Apathy and lethargy are typical.
Dr Masaki Hiraiwa, a cancer specialist, was called by the defense to discuss the Xanax found in Ms. Furlong’s blood stream.
The trial also heard inconclusive evidence from an expert witness about the possible effects of the drug Xanax found in Ms Furlong’s bloodstream.
He testified about the impact of the drugs found in Ms Furlong’s body.
Xanax found in Ms Furlong’s bloodstream contains the active ingredient Alprazolam.
Dr Hiraiwa told the court this is prescribed in Japan under different product names than the Xanax which Ms Furlong took.
He said Alprazolam affects the central nervous system and probably reduces the pain of a patient.
However, he said this depended on the mental state of the patient at the time.
Its effects are increased when combined with alcohol, which is not advised, he said.
He believed the concentration found in Ms Furlong’s bloodstream indicated that she may have taken the drug half a day before she died.
He estimated the drug would take maximum effect after two hours, but said that depended on the patient.
Dr. Aida testified that:
“The functions of her heart and lungs had stopped,” explaining that he attempted to resuscitate Ms Furlong by massaging her chest and administering adrenalin. “The patient was very young so she left an impression on me,” he said.
To recap, during four plus hours of testimony, Dr. Yoshida revealed:
1. Tragic Nicola was strangled for several minutes with a cotton-type ligature — most likely a rolled up towel or tank-top found at the scene — which left a five centimetre wide “pale area” around her neck;
2. During the attack, she bled from her nose, blood-vessels burst in her eyes and eyelids and she suffered bleeding in the muscles of her neck and on her lungs;
3. In desperation to rip the ligature from her neck during the attack — which Dr Yoshida estimated had lasted several minutes — Nicola left abrasions on her own chin and collarbone with her fingers;
4. DNA tests on swabs taken from Nicola failed to find any evidence that she had sex with the accused (19), as his defence team claimed on Monday.
5. There was also, he continued, a high level of thyroid hormone in Nicola’s system, which indicated damage to her thyroid “caused by strangulation”. Source
However, a US pathologist told the court that it is impossible to tell how Nicola Furlong was strangled.
“The marks on her neck are fairly ambiguous,” Dr Marianne Hamel said, “I cannot determine if it’s a manual or ligature strangulation” meaning that she can’t say if the American accused of Ms Furlong’ murder strangled her with his hands or with an item of clothing or towel, as alleged by the prosecution.”
The defense witness, Dr. Hamel, reached a few different conclusion from those of Dr Kenichi Yoshida:
1. She said that because alcohol and prescription drug Xanax were present in Ms. Furlong’s body when she died, “she may be able to feel pain but to a lesser degree than if she were fully sober.”
2. She found no major mistakes with Dr. Yoshida’s autopsy findings.
Dr. Hamel did agree on this point however:
“Ms. Furlong died from strangulation and agreed that however the strangulation occurred it lasted for “several minutes.”
Dr. Hamel further stated that:
“by looking at the postmortem photographs it was not possible to prove how the girl was strangled. She pointed out that when objects like a towel are used, the victim would normally leave scratch marks on the skin where they tried to pull the object away, along with skin tissue collecting under the fingernails.
Dr Hamel is not trying to suggest that Furlong wasn’t strangled, but simply pointing out that it’s not possible to confirm if an object like a towel was used. Such a distinction is important, as Hind’s use of a rolled-up towel would indicate murderous intentions and could affect sentencing.”
This directly contradicts the position of the defendant, Mr Hinds, who said in a brief statement to the court on Monday that “I did lightly press her neck” but “I do not believe I was the cause of her death because the pressure was too light.” Source
Be sure to check out the next story dealing with the charge against Mr. Blackston and his testimony surrounding the night of Ms. Furlong’s tragic death.
The following BT’ers contributed to BT’s reporting of the Nicola Furlong death investigation: @blacktokyo, @onmugen @starrwulfe @ogPegasus303
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