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Man sentenced to death for killing 5 people in Hyogo Pref.

A home where the fatal stabbings occurred, foreground, and the house where Hirano is thought to have resided, top left, are pictured in Sumoto, Hyogo Prefecture, in this photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter on March 9, 2015. (Mainichi)

KOBE -- The Kobe District Court on March 22 sentenced a 42-year-old man to death over the killing of five people in Hyogo Prefecture in 2015, dismissing lawyers' arguments that he was mentally ill.

Tatsuhiko Hirano, 42, was handed the death penalty after being convicted of fatally stabbing five neighbors with a survival knife in two separate homes on Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture, on March 9, 2015. The victims, three women and two men, were aged between 59 and 84.

Hirano had a history of medical treatment for a psychiatric disorder, and in the trial he denied the allegations against him, saying that he was "manipulated by agents with magnetic waves."

The focus of the case was whether Hirano could be held criminally responsible for his actions.

Public prosecutors said that delusions bore no influence in the killings and that Hirano was mentally competent. Defense lawyers, meanwhile, argued that the killings wouldn't have occurred without the delusions brought on by Hirano's mental condition. They said that he either couldn't be held criminally responsible, or was of diminished capacity, warranting a lighter sentence.

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