Friday, November 22, 2013

Murder LA 000036

Kazuyoshi and Kazumi Miura
from the LA Times
On November 18, 1981 Kazuyoshi Miura and his wife, Kazumi, are doing their civic duty as Japanese visitors: taking photographs. They're not exactly tourists; Kazuyoshi's work as a clothing importer brings him stateside frequently.

Around noon, as they sight-see near the Music Center, Kazuyoshi notices a dark green car pull up. The two men inside demand cash. Kazuyoshi speaks English but does not comply right away. One of the men pulls a gun and shoots both of the Miuras.

Kazumi is struck in the head; Kazuyoshi in the leg. He lay on the ground next to his unconscious wife as the men search their purse and pockets. They leave after accumulating $1,200.

Kazumi is transported back to Japan in a coma and dies a year later. The gunman is never found.

This is not the end of the story, nor is it the beginning. It's simply a midpoint in Kazuyoshi's life.

Apparently it was not immediately known that there were witnesses. Employees at the nearby Department of Water and Power had an elevated view of the scene from less than a block away. They could not clearly see the shooter because their view was obstructed by his vehicle: a white van, rather than the dark green car Miura reported.

Los Angeles authorities worked with Tokyo to further investigate Miura, who had returned home.

Soon enough new witnesses came forward.

A woman claimed that her sister had been involved with Kazuyoshi and had disappeared while visiting him in Los Angeles in 1979. Her remains had been found that same year but not identified until 1984.

A Japanese porn actress claimed to have been having an affair with Miura and confessed that, under his direction, she had flown to Los Angeles a few months prior to the shooting, posed as a seamstress to gain access to Mrs. Miura, and hit her in the head with a hammer at the New Otani (now a Hilton DoubleTree) hotel in Little Tokyo. She had a change of heart after the assault, though, and fled instead of finishing the woman off.

In 1985 Miura was arrested and convicted in Japan of attempted murder. While serving his sentence he was also convicted of the murder itself in 1994 and stayed imprisoned until 2003, when the second conviction was overturned due to insufficient evidence -- the gunman had never even been found.

In 2008, 60-year-old Miura posted on his blog that he was going to visit Saipan, which is a U.S. territory, so American authorities had immigration take him into custody during that trip. He initially fought extradition but gave up and was brought back to Los Angeles to face conspiracy charges.

He would have faced trial for the 1979 murder as well, but Miura was found hanged in his cell almost immediately after arriving. His attorney claimed it was not suicide but the coroner did not agree.

Kazuyoshi Miura
from NBC4