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Man charged over fatal road rage incident in Osaka Pref. denies murderous intent

SAKAI, Osaka -- A man on trial over a road rage incident that resulted in the death of a motorcyclist in the western Japan city of Sakai in July 2018 pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder as his trial opened in a local court on Jan. 15.

Standing trial over the incident that resulted in the death of 22-year-old motorcyclist Takumi Takada is 40-year-old Akihiro Nakamura, a former security guard from Sakai in Osaka Prefecture.

"I didn't intentionally hit the motorbike," Nakamura told a lay judge trial at the Sakai branch of the Osaka District Court. His lawyer also denied that he intentionally pursued and hit the motorcyclist."

The incident occurred on a prefectural road in Sakai's Minami Ward at about 7:35 p.m. on July 2, 2018. According to the indictment against Nakamura, he got angry when Takada, a fourth-year university student, rode past him, and started pursuing the student. He allegedly hit Takada while traveling at a speed of 96 to 97 kilometers per hour despite knowing this could kill the victim, and caused Takada to die from brain injuries.

In their opening statements in court, public prosecutors said that after Takada passed Nakamura, Nakamura sped up, honking his horn. After changing lanes and driving close to Takada at speeds topping 100 kilometers per hour, he braked lightly but hit Takada one or two seconds later. The incident was captured on multiple dashcams, including one in Nakamura's vehicle.

Lawyers for Nakamura argued that he tried to brake but was unable to do so in time, and that the applicable charge was negligence resulting in death, not murder.

At first Osaka Prefectural Police arrested Nakamura on suspicion of negligence resulting in death in violation of the law punishing acts inflicting death or injuries on others while driving. However, after analyzing dashcam footage, they upgraded the charge to murder.

Ahead of the proceedings in court on Jan. 15, Takada's mother released a comment through her lawyer stating, "Why did Takumi have to be killed. I want to confirm the facts with my own eyes and ears."

(Japanese original by Kensuke Yaoi and Sachiko Miyakawa, Osaka City News Department)

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