Nicola Furlong Investigation: The Accused Speaks and the Probable Verdicts
RUMORS, FOREIGN MEDIA AND UNDERGROUND NEWS
In the Japan Times article (June 2012): “Rumors, lies fill void left by police in Furlong case: Starved of information, the Internet is telling the story of a young Irish woman’s death — but not always accurately by David McNeill,” the following was reported:
“The Furlongs were upset by news stories in the first few days after Nicola’s death hinting that she may have been taking drugs.” “It wasn’t possible, they said, that the young woman they watched growing up could have changed so sharply over the other side of the world.”
We now know that Ms. Furlong’s Blood Alcohol Content or BAC was 0.214 which is four times over the legal limit in Ireland. She was prescribed eight .25 mg Zanax pills for ““mild” anxiety attacks, which had also been brought on by such events as her flight from Dublin to Tokyo in February last year, according to her father.” In this case, however, Ms. Furlong took one of her prescription pills, which was prescribed approximately three-months earlier, approximately 4-hours prior to the concert and 12-hours or so before her death with copious amounts of alcohol.
THE ACCUSED: MR. BLACKSTON
“The Japanese police diligently build their case, almost resentfully dealing with journalists and releasing information only in fitful, cryptic bursts. Eventually, a prepared statement emerged from police HQ saying that two American men had been charged with something called quasi-forcible indecency against the two women, a legal term that had reporters scratching their heads. “It means plying someone with drink or drugs and groping or sexually assaulting them,” a police spokesman explained.”
Mr. Blackston, the American remains jail under the charge of quasi-forcible indecency due to groping or sexually assaulting Ms. Furlong’s comatose friend while in the back of a taxi cab should receive his sentence this week. The following is an explanation of the charge:
Article 178, Quasi Forcible Indecency; Quasi Rape:
(1) A person who commits an indecent act upon a male or female by taking advantage of loss of consciousness or inability to resist, or by causing a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, shall be punished in the same manner as prescribed for in Article 176 (see below).
Source: https://www.imolin.org/doc/amlid/Japan/Japan_Penal_Code_1907.pdf (Page 38)
The following is a definition of Article 176, Forcible Indecency:
A person who, through assault or intimidation, forcibly commits an indecent act upon a male or female of not less than thirteen years of age shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 6 months but not more than 10 years. The same shall apply to a person who commits an indecent act upon a male or female under thirteen years of age.
Source: https://www.imolin.org/doc/amlid/Japan/Japan_Penal_Code_1907.pdf (Page 37)
Additionally, the Japan Times reported:
If the case goes to trial, much will be made of what took place next. Did the women voluntarily accompany the men and drink too much, or were they drugged and tricked or forced into going back to their hotel?”
“The discussion is likely to hinge on toxicology reports showing exactly what was in Furlong’s bloodstream. Her friend reportedly remembers little about the attack, but has given the police a statement.”
Toxicology reports show that date rape drugs were not used on Ms. Furlong and her friend. Both women consumed an abundance of alcohol, as admitted by Ms. Furlong’s friend during testimony. This definitely impacted their mental and physical state. Were the women forced or tricked into going back to the hotel? Ms. Furlong’s friend testified that the women had no intention since she and Ms. Furlong both have boyfriends in Ireland. However, the men testified that the women showed interest in them and were questioned about where they were staying.
The Japan Times further reported:
“U.S. reports said that the charge was murder, though no such information was released by the police. Irish newspapers reported the death in a way that would almost certainly put them in contempt of court if the crime had taken place in Dublin.”
“Many outlets showed the heavily tattooed rapper side by side with a picture of the beautiful blond victim, an irresistible excuse for a toxic online stream of racist abuse.”
Yes, there has been a definite slant to the story surrounding Nicola Furlong’s death (or murder), the sexual assault of her friend and the men on trial. Some on YouTube have posted rants, racist comments and other diatribe found on the internet. For example:
Black Tokyo has no reason to respond to such comments. It is best to investigate and provide analysis and additional information in order to understand the rest of the story. Even the Japan Times reported:
“A major part of the problem for reporters was the lack of information from the authorities. It was Friday evening, over 40 hours after Furlong’s death, before the main Japanese news channels broke the story, by which time it had already made the Irish newspapers. Foreign reporters who called the Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Friday were told they had not heard of the case.”
There continues to be not much interest in the Nicola Furlong case in Japan. Why? Mainly due to the fact that a Japanese person is not involved. Other reasons may be diplomatic or political. Should this be major news in Japan? There have been similar crimes committed in Japan and the sentences have varied.
CASE 1: OLYMPIC JUDO CHAMPION
“A double Olympic judo gold medallist was jailed in Japan for raping a student. Masato Uchishiba was sentenced to five years in prison for the assault on a teenage member of a college judo club he was coaching. After a night of drinking and karaoke, the teenager, whose exact age was not given but who was believed to have been 18 or 19 at the time, fell asleep in her hotel room and awoke to find Uchishiba raping her. Married Uchishiba pleaded not guilty and maintained throughout the trial that the sex with the teenage student had been consensual. Uchishiba said in court he would appeal the decision.” Source
CASE 2: 50-YEAR-OLD JAPANESE EXECUTIVE
“The lower court handed down the ruling of guilty to Hideaki Ishii, in his 50s, for groping a 19-year-old woman in 2005 during his commute on the JR Yokohama line. After three and a half years’ legal battle to prove his innocence, the former sales executive of a leading corporation will be incarcerated later this month for a term of 1 year and 6 months.
According to Ishii, “Many people advised me after my arrest that I should admit to the charge and apologize. Then I’d be required to pay 50,000 yen as penalty and the case will be over. But I refused because it was something I didn’t do. I spent more than 10 million yen in legal fees to prove my innocence and I now face a prison sentence, even though I have no criminal record. The verdict stated that the sentence was appropriate in view of what they claimed was the absence of any sign of remorse. How am I to feel remorse over an act I didn’t commit?”
Shortly after the first trial, the prosecution changed the charge from violation of the nuisance prevention ordinance to public assault. Ishii’s lawyer suspected it was due to “loss of face,” since the court ordered his release from detention much earlier than prosecutors had hoped for.
Ishii was certain that his innocence would be proven at court. Around the time the crime allegedly happened, he was standing behind the female victim, but preoccupied with a text message he was sending to a friend. The cell phone records prove this fact, yet the victim insisted she was being groped during that time. A male witness also stated he saw Ishii from the time he was supposedly waiting at the platform for the train, and claimed that the act did happen. However, the said platform is not a station Ishii uses, either to get on or transfer for his commute. If the testimony were true, Ishii would have had to get off the train once. Based on the hour he left home for work, it was impossible for Ishii to be on that platform at the hour as testified.” SOURCE
CASE 3: US FORCES JAPAN SAILOR
“A USS George Washington sailor was fined 300,000 yen ($3,209) by a Yokosuka court Tuesday for groping two women.
The petty officer 1st class, 31, was found guilty of disturbing public peace after admitting to touching the women after drinking, local court and police officials said. Police said the sailor inappropriately touched a 20-year-old woman about 11:20 p.m. on Jan. 4 on a Yokosuka street. An hour later, police said the sailor hugged a 53-year-old woman from behind, touching around her breasts.
Police then found the sailor, who admitted to the allegations and registered a 0.06 blood alcohol level following a breath test.
The sailor’s name was not released because he was never formally arrested, Yokosuka police said.” SOURCE
CASE 3: US FORCES JAPAN AIRMAN
A Japanese court on Thursday sentenced a U.S. Air Force serviceman in connection with the molesting of a 10-year-old Japanese girl on the southern island of Okinawa, a court spokesman said.
The Naha District Court gave Staff Sgt. Armando Valdez, 28, a suspended prison sentence of 18 months for indecent assault, the court spokesman Yusuke Katsuta said. SOURCE
THE BLACKSTON TESTIMONY
“Blackston told prosecutor Takeru Isomura he and Hinds brought the women back to their hotel because they were heavily intoxicated and he didn’t want to leave them “on the street”.
Asked if the two men had discussed rape drugs in the taxi, Blackston said he hadn’t even known what a rape drug was.
However, he admitted touching Nicola’s friend in the taxi, a detail that reportedly came to light through a security video inside the vehicle.
He added: “I don’t know how many times, I just know that I did.”
Other surveillance footage from the Keio Plaza Hotel, where the two Americans were staying, showed Blackston pushing Nicola’s friend in a wheelchair to his room.
But Blackston claimed the woman “grabbed” him when he lay her down on one of two beds in the room.
He also claimed she tried to have sex with him but he refused when he remembered he didn’t have a condom.
Blackston said: “That’s the No1 rule.” He added he had also thought about his fiancee in the US.
In a previous hearing Blackston admitted having sex with two other women in Japan.
He is also standing trial on a separate charge of assault against one of them, which he also denies.
The dancer said he went to the hotel room where Hinds and Nicola were staying after she was strangled.
Upon returning to his room he said he woke Nicola’s sleeping friend and lent her one of his shirts.
He added: “I let her know, I said something is wrong with your friend.” Blackston was also quizzed about the second charge of assault, brought against him by a Japanese-Brazilian woman in Kofu, west of Tokyo, one month earlier.
Speaking after the hearing, his defence lawyer Tsutomu Nakamura said he “had confidence” his client would be found not guilty on that count but described the Tokyo case as “difficult”.
He believed the prosecutor had failed to prove Blackston’s guilt but said the taxi footage was “difficult to attack”.
Mr Nakamura added he expects Blackston to get a suspended sentence when the verdict is handed down.” SOURCE
THE POSSIBLE VERDICT FOR MR. BLACKSTON
So like the USFJ Sailor, Blackston admitted has admitted that he committed quasi-forcible indecency against Ms. Furlong’s friend in the taxi. He also admitted that he did not have sex with Ms. Furlong’s friend while the two were at the hotel.
Based on previous cases, it possible that Blackston will receive a fine and time served or a fine and no more than a 1-year prison sentence.
THE ACCUSED MINOR’S TESTIMONY
The American minor is defended by Nakamura International Criminal Defense. The following information is provided via their website:
“A lawyer specializing in criminal cases who was once a public prosecutor himself will aggressively defend your case. Nakamura International Criminal Defense is a law firm specializing in criminal cases. The founding partner has many years’ experience actually prosecuting criminal cases as an investigating prosecutor. Also on staff is a professional investigator who has many years’ experience in criminal investigation as a former police officer. If you are facing a criminal prosecution, our team of professionals will be your most powerful ally and defend you to the hilt.”
The legal firms website states:
Nakamura International Criminal Defense, we always strive to get the best results for you in the face of the fact that Japan has a 99.8% conviction rate. Our past achievements include:
・A not-guilty verdict in a drug-trafficking case where the prosecution demanded a 15-year jail sentence and a 5 million yen fine
・A not-guilty verdict in a case of false charges of embezzlement
・A suspended sentence at appeal, after the defendant switched to Nakamura International Criminal Defense, in a case where the initial sentence was actual jail time
The American minor is charged with strangling Ms. Furlong. RTE News Ireland reported the following:
“The man accused of murdering Irish student Nicola Furlong in Japan last year has claimed Japanese police changed his evidence.
“the minor” from Memphis, Tennessee, told the court that Ms Furlong had asked him to place his hand on her neck.
He said this happened several times over the course of the evening and he had exerted light pressure for a period of 30 seconds. His lawyer claimed, and he agreed, that the police had changed his statement to read “for two or three minutes”.
He also said that when Ms Furlong woke up in his hotel room, the first thing she said was: “What’s up?”"
It was previously reported that Ms. Furlong answered the phone while in the minor’s hotel room. Supposedly, less than an hour later she would be found unconscious and pronounced deceased.
Prior to arriving at the Keio Plaza Hotel, the minor reported that the “Irish women said they were “going to drink them under the table”.
“The minor” described how, at one point in the night, Ms Furlong had collapsed in the toilet of the nightclub. He believed she was very drunk.
He brought her outside to a taxi where Mr Blackston was already helping her friend inside.
The minor was further “admitted that he used both hands to press “lightly” on Nicola’s neck on the night she died, during questioning from prosecution lawyers.
When asked why he had not said this yesterday or during his initial trial hearing last July, he replied: “Maybe I wasn’t heard correctly.”" SOURCE
The minor was shown footage from inside the taxicab the night the foursome went to the hotel. RTE reports:
“In the footage he is seen turning from his front passenger seat to ‘fist-bump’ his friend, James Blackston, who was allegedly carrying out a sexual assault on Nicola’s friend.
Hinds maintained he had not seen the alleged assault and repeated that his conversation concerned repaying Blackston money and not their intention to have sex with the Irish women.
He said he had no explanation for why Nicola died.
When asked if he understood that all of this was putting pressure on the victim’s family, he replied:
“No. They came across the world to court to know what happened.”"
Nicola Furlong’s father said, “it is very hard to listen to “the minor,” who told the court Ms Furlong was very drunk and asked him to place his hand on her neck.” Mr Furlong added: “There are times my blood is boiling and I want to go and grab “him” and grab the defence by the throat for everything they’ve been saying but you just can’t.”
He claims that the defendant and the defense team try to blacken his daughter’s character. The defendant is scheduled to give evidence on Tuesday and Wednesday. A judgement is expected on the case on March 19 after evidence concludes later this week.
THE POSSIBLE VERDICT FOR THE MINOR?
If the minor is found guilty of:
(Quasi Forcible Indecency; Quasi Rape)
Article 178 (1)A person who commits an indecent act upon a male or female by taking advantage of loss of consciousness or inability to resist, or by causing a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, shall be punished in the same manner as prescribed for in Article 176.
(2) A person who commits sexual intercourse with a female by taking advantage of a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, or by causing a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, shall be punished in the same matter as prescribed in the preceding Article.
During testimony, the examining physician stated DNA indicated that the minor did not have sex with Ms. Furlong. Therefore, it seems that he would be punished using this statute, Forcible Indecency.
Article 176: A person who, through assault or intimidation, forcibly commits an indecent act upon a male or female of not less than thirteen years of age shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 6 months but not more than 10 years. The same shall apply to a person who commits an indecent act upon a male or female under thirteen years of age.
Therefore, possible punishment would seem to be “punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 6 months but not more than 10 years.”
However, since Ms. Furlong died or was killed (a verdict has yet to be reached in the case), this statute should apply:
Forcible Indecency Causing Death or Injury
Article 181: (1) A person who commits a crime prescribed under Article 176, paragraph (1) of Article 178 or an attempt of the above-mentioned crimes and thereby causes the death or injury of another shall be punished by imprisonment with work for life or for a definite term of not less than 3 years.
(2) A person who commits a crime prescribed under Article 177, paragraph (2) of Article 178 or an attempt of the above-mentioned crimes and thereby causes the death or injury of another shall be punished by imprisonment with work for life or for a definite term of not less than 5 years. 39
(3) A person who commits a crime prescribed for in Article 178-2 or an attempt of the above-mentioned crimes and thereby causes the death or injury of another shall be punished by imprisonment with work for life or for a definite term of not less than 6 years.
If the minor is found guilty in the case, it is possible that he will be fined and sentenced to serve at least another two-years to 4-years in prison UNLESS medical evidence and evidence gathered by the police plays a major role in establishing doubt in the trial testimony and evidence received.
If found guilty, the teen could also be sentenced under “manslaughter” guidelines and be sentenced to five or more years in prison, life imprisonment or even receive the death penalty (if he were sentenced as an adult).
Additionally, if he is charged with Quasi Forcible Indecency or manslaughter, it is possible for him to serve a suspended sentence if the minor’s defense successfully argues for mitigating circumstances.
Ms. Furlong’s sister has called for the death penalty and “two judges sitting in on the case wiped tears from their eyes as the victim impact statements of Nicola’s mum and sister were read out,” according to the Independent.ie.
Nicola Furlong’s mother stated:
In a separate victim impact statement, Nicola Furlong’s mother Angela said that she “had no wish to take a life for a life.” But she added that “given that the defendant has refused to take responsibility for what he did and has instead tried to blacken our daughter’s name with lies, I feel the punishment should at least begin to reflect the pain he has caused.”
The minor again admitted putting his hands around Ms. Furlong’s neck, stating:
Earlier he admitted for the first time that he put his two hands around Ms Furlong’s neck moments before she passed out from strangulation. Mr Hinds, who pleads not guilty to murder, said, “At this time, I had both hands on her neck.”
When asked by the prosecution why he had not mentioned this in questioning by his defence lawyer yesterday, Mr Hinds said, “Well, he didn’t ask.”
He then claimed that since Ms Furlong was killed in the early hours of last May 24th, he had always said he had put his two hands around her neck.
“I maybe wasn’t heard correctly by others, but I have been saying this from the beginning of my investigation nine months ago,” he said.”
When asked by the prosecutor asked why Ms. Furlong died and “whether he understood the testimony last week of two pathologists who said that Ms Furlong died from powerful strangulation that last several minutes,” the minor replied:
“If I misjudged my pressure, I humbly accept it, if I misjudged it” and “that he put his hands on Ms Furlong’s neck to calm her down and that she wanted him to do it to give her sexual pleasure.”
Additionally, the Independent.ie reported that the minor, when testifying about “the blood stains on both beds in his hotel room that matched Ms Furlong’s DNA, stated:
“Ms Furlong had vomited blood on one bed and that the other stains “were possibly from her touching the bed.”
“When questioned about his testimony that Ms Furlong initiated sex with him after awakening from her unconsciousness, Mr Hinds described himself four times as a “gentleman”.
Asked why he had not taken off his clothes if the events were as he alleged, he said, “I am a gentleman.” Asked why did he testify that he had not touched Ms Furlong’s breasts or genital area, he replied, “Like I said, I am a gentleman.”
The minor said, “I do not have an answer for the reason she died, but what I would like to say is that I have apologised for the loss of their daughter.”
The verdict in the minor’s trial charged with killing Ms. Furling is due next Tuesday. SOURCE
The following BT’ers contributed to BT’s reporting of the Nicola Furlong death investigation: @blacktokyo, @onmugen @starrwulfe @ogPegasus303
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