First off, a hat tip to Naomi Hirahara who just bounced me a note on this one. If you haven't read her Mas Arai novels (The latest, Snakeskin Shamisen, won the Edgar last year for Best Paperback Original Novel) or her short stories in Los Angeles Noir and A Hell of A Woman, you owe it to yourself to go grab them now.
Earlier this week, Kazuyoshi Miura, in connection with the 1981 slaying of his wife, Kazumi, near a downtown overpass was finally arrested here in the States. Getting there was a dogged, 27 year fight for retired LAPD Lt. Jimmy Sakoda.
The LA Times does a far better job of telling this story than I could ever hope to do, but I'll try to sum up.
Originally, it looked pretty cut and dried. Asian businessman comes to Los Angeles, gets robbed. He and his wife get shot. She dies after a year in a coma. Our boy plays the "America is a dangerous place" card and hightails it back to Japan. The media eats it up, of course. Everyone knows L.A. is a pit, after all.
Only it's not quite so simple. After a lot of digging by Lt. Sakoda, then with the LAPD's Asian Crime Taskforce, a few things come to light.
Turns out Miura's got a mistress. A Japanese porn star named Michiko Yazawa. Seems the two of them plotted to take Kazumi three months before. She shows up at his hotel as a seamstress and tries to nail her in the head with a hammer. Only she freaks and bails. Later she tells the cops that not only did she do that, but she also refused to be part of a plan to do his wife by acting as a mugger, shoot him in the leg and her in the head. Sound familiar?
Miura and Yazawa were finally both convicted in a Japanese court for attempted murder in 1986. He pulled six years. But because of the failure to convict a suspected accomplice, Miura's interpreter while he was in Los Angeles, the Japanese courts overturned the conviction in 1998.
Normally, that would be that. Boy's in Japan, he's been tried, convicted and exonerated. The U.S. can't touch him. Double Jeopardy and all that.
Except for two things. One is that California got rid of that little loophole in 2004 for people tried overseas after the murderer of a Sheriff's Deputy ran off to Mexico.
The second is that Miura is a blogger.
Boy's been giving group talks on people wrongly convicted of crimes back in Japan and keeps a blog about events, his life, probably his cats, too. More importantly about his travel plans. Like his plans to visit the United States.
Sakoda, retired but watchful, has been keeping tabs on Miura for a while. He bounces a note to Det. Rick Jackson of the LAPD's Cold Case Homicide Unit, who arranges to grab Miura once he's on U.S. soil.
I'll be interested to see how this one plays out. The Japanese press is getting involved, Miura's lawyer is trying to keep the Japanese government out of it. On top of all that, Miura has been named a suspect in the murder of his lover, Chizuko Shiraishi, who was finally identified in 1984, five years after her body was found in a field.
Grab some popcorn, folks. This one's gonna be a rollercoaster.