Mother on trial for suffocating 5-year-old son over Nintendo DS argument

TOKYO —

A 42-year-old mother of four has gone on trial in Tokyo, accused of killing her five-year-old son.

Teary-eyed and clinging to a handkerchief as she spoke, Shizu Shigeta admitted that she had caused the death of her son, Koshi, after sealing him inside two plastic garbage bags and then falling asleep beside him while under the influence of sedatives and alcohol.

The mother, who had lived with her husband and children in Mejiro, Tokyo, listened as the prosecution recounted the events leading up to the tragic death of the kindergartener.

On the evening of Sept 1, 2012, allegedly feeling under pressure from work and suffering from lack of sleep, Shigeta was angered to find the living room floor of their family home littered with toys. Grabbing a garbage bag, she began tidying up, stuffing her son’s Nintendo DS in the bag in the process. She headed to bed soon after, hoping to sleep late the next day as it was a Sunday. As she had done on several nights prior to the incident, the seemingly troubled mother swallowed a sleeping pill, washing it down with a glass of shochu whiskey and water.

Despite taking the sedative, however, Shigeta woke twice in the night. Both times, she got up and took another sleeping pill, eventually dozing off and sleeping soundly until around 11 a.m. the next day.

When Shigeta rose the next morning, she found her third son, Koshi, in the living room already up and about. When his mother entered the living room, he immediately asked her for his missing Nintendo DS.

Like any good parent, Shigeta resolved to teach her son that it was not acceptable to spend his days simply doing exactly as he pleased and not tidying up after himself. Angered by her son’s tone and, she maintains, still drowsy from the pills she had taken, however, the mother’s response to her son’s request was far from normal.

“Would you rather breathe or play DS?” she asked the young boy.

Perhaps not sensing his mother’s tone, or, as many young boys do, simply refusing to cooperate after not getting his own way, Koushi replied, “I’d rather play DS.”

Further angered by his words, Shigeta grabbed the boy and bound his hands and feet with plastic twine, then covered both his mouth and eyes with tape. Finally, she pulled a garbage bag over the boy’s head and thrust his feet into another, drawing them together at his waist and sealing them shut.

“I intended to untie him once he’d apologised,” the mother later said. Whether this was indeed the case, it appears that Shigeta, still under the influence of the pills and alcohol she had swallowed, fell asleep again soon after binding her son, leaving him trapped in the bags and unable to breathe.

At 12:15 p.m., the boy’s father entered the room and discovered his son and wife. He tore the bags open, but Koshi was already unconscious. An ambulance was called and the boy was rushed to hospital, but sadly he was pronounced dead three days later. Cause of death: hypoxic encephalopathy, or brain damage caused by lack of oxygen.

Koshi is described in an Asahi Digital news report as having been a “lively kindergartener” whom his mother often doted on and seemingly had trouble disciplining. Shigeta, despite claiming to recall only “fragments” of the incident, admits to killing her son.

Taking into account the circumstances and acknowledging the fact that she appears so remorseful, the prosecution is currently asking that Shigeta serve a sentence of four years in prison.

Source: Asahi Digital via My Game News Flash

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  • 5

    kurisupisu

    It's strange but I've never had the slightest inclination of sealing my son in a plastic bag. This appears not to be normal parenting ....

  • 0

    ka_chan

    But try taking sleeping pills for a few months and you may do it in your sleep or find you have gained weight or somewhere on the road. Can't believe that she mixed alcohol with medication and ODi'ing on 3.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/15/business/15drug.ready.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13636546

  • 1

    mikihouse

    Seems both parents are working and the kid is allowed to play as he wants...mom gets home tired and stressed out. Sleep deprived, stressed out, angry, and without rest and an uncontrollable kid. recipe for disaster.

    Bad parenting.

  • -2

    kimuzukashiiiii

    "Like any good parent, Shigeta resolved to teach her son that it was not acceptable to spend his days simply doing exactly as he pleased and not tidying up after himself. "

    Im sorry, but you can not use the words "good parent" when speaking about this woman.

    Good parents dont give their 5 year olds DS in the first place. Good parents dont find it hard to discipline their child. Good parents dont put their kids in garbage bags.

  • 3

    Disillusioned

    Yeah, get caught with a gram of pot and do two years in a Japanese jail, but the doctors here dish out sleeping pills like candy! However, you can't blame the pills and booze alone in this case. Obviously this woman had a few screws loose long before she became a pill popper.

  • 1

    ka_chan

    But you can blame the pills. Sleeping pills are addictive, they can have severe side effects, they are cumulative. People do strange things when they are half asleep or sometimes entirely asleep.

  • 4

    CrazyJoe

    This woman received a 3 year prison sentence, suspended for 5 years on October 3rd. Japan's anomaly with the justice system.

  • 0

    wontond

    “Would you rather breathe or play DS?” she asked the young boy.

    What kind of savage would say that to their own young child?! I can't believe she's trying to convince people she was trying to teach her son a "lesson" and it went to far. Seems she was homicidal, plain and simple.

  • 0

    SauloJpn

    I wonder if a question was put to her, if she rather breathe or have her son back, what the answer would be. But what she did was so terrible that it is not even an option anymore. She will have to live with it for the rest of her life.

  • 1

    Mirai Hayashi

    Sad sad sad....what the hell was the father doing sleeping till noon. He should have helped discipline the child properly rather than throwing the responsibility solely into the mother's lap.

  • 0

    John Occupythemoon Daly

    What... the... f###? Who DOES something like that? Maybe she should have waterboarded him instead? This woman is a psycho, and deserves more than what they gave her as punishment. 3 years? I hope this woman is never allowed around children again. "Would you rather breathe or play the DS?" Honestly... what a whack job.

  • 0

    MarkG

    Why not put the Nintendo in a plastic trash bag seal it and send it off the dumpster first? Kids learn real quick when you don't bluff.

  • -3

    The Chronic

    What we need here is some good ole fashioned frontier justice. I've said it many times before, any adult who harms a child like we have in this case needs to be put down like a rabid dog.

  • 1

    timtak

    This woman received a 3 year prison sentence, suspended for 5 years on October 3rd. Japan's anomaly with the justice system.

    She did this and then walked? That certainly is an anomaly.

  • 1

    sensei258

    I sometimes feel "under pressure from work" and "suffer from lack of sleep", but I still haven't found it necessary to kill anyone.

  • 4

    darknuts

    How was he supposed to apologize while sealed in a plastic bag? 3 years suspended? WTF Japan?

  • 0

    kimuzukashiiiii

    You reckon? Parenting is a skill learned through years of experience. Maybe you should write a book and save the rest of us years of soul searching education.

    Well... she did HAVE years of experience - 4 kids, her third son (I assume the youngest) was 5?

    I dont need to write a book, and you do not need to read one. its pretty much common sense to me that tying your kid up in garbage bags as a punishment (even if you dont want to kill them) makes you a crappy parent. As is using a DS as a babysitter so much that its the first thing your kid asks for when he sees you in the morning.

    I say this as the mother of a 5 year old who does not have a DS, or any other games device because I said so. 15 maybe. 5 No. Gaming so much is not good for any child, especially one who already seems, by the description from the kindergarten, as a bit of a active one. Take him to the park, for goodness sake. Let him run around, burn off some of that energy.

    Shutting him in garbage bags? I think not...

  • 1

    ebisen

    Slept until 11, with her 5yo son probably awake by 7? A slap out two on the bottom not sufficient? Throwing the DS in the garbage would have been a better option. Why does he need a DR anyway?

  • 1

    Alphaape

    She tied him up and bound his mouth. How was he supposed to say "I'm sorry"? Yet she claims she doesn't remember anything. She is a bad mother, I have to say, but bet her remaining kids will probably follow orders if they are allowed to stay with her. I imagine that there is a lot more to this story than being told.

  • 0

    sensei258

    That's the problem with the Japanese justice system, as long as the criminal "appears so remorseful" they get very light or even suspended sentences. Let the punishment fit the crime!

  • 4

    TheDevilsAssistant

    It's kinda rude how this article is written...a child died and it's written like a children's book.

  • 4

    FightingViking

    then covered both his mouth and eyes with tape.

    One has to wonder how he could have asked for forgiveness with his mouth taped up... ?

  • 0

    Tessa

    42-year-old mother of four, can't cope? Note to self: when you're in a hole, stop digging.

  • 3

    kingyboy24

    Absolutely Disgusting!

  • 2

    ohayo206

    Sad. There is no way in knowing how much psychological damage may have incurred on her other children. Very sad.

  • 1

    ControlFreak

    Four kids and both parents work? At Setsubun did they yell "Fuku wa soto! Oni wa uchi!"? Cause it seems to me they we asking for trouble.

    Kids need parents, not working stiffs suffering from sleep dep.

  • -3

    nico00

    @ka_chan

    Glad to see someone who's rational. :) Most people seem incapable of realising that your brain is you, and mental illness and drugs affect who you are. The news report fails to mention the type of sleeping medication, but if she was on one of the Z-drugs, there's a strong chance given the alcohol and multiple dosage of pills she took, that the pills are the cause of this sad and terrible event.

  • 1

    sincerely999

    He was only five years old. He just wanted to play with DS. Why did she kill her son? He was too pitiable. Deadly.

  • 1

    slumdog

    Like any good parent, Shigeta resolved to teach her son that it was not acceptable to spend his days simply doing exactly as he pleased and not tidying up after himself.

    She is not a 'good parent'. She is a murderer.

  • 1

    Scnadal.Lova

    a strange way to punish your son.

  • 5

    slumdog

    Like any good parent, Shigeta resolved to teach her son that it was not acceptable to spend his days simply doing exactly as he pleased and not tidying up after himself.

    This is written in a way that seems utterly sympathetic to a person that murdered their own child. I find that highly in appropriate considering the crime and the victim.

  • 1

    Akuma

    I was thinking the exact same thing slumdog. They make it sound as if it's not the mother's fault at all.. They're only asking for four years simply because she seems remorseful. Bullshit! She should get life. But hey if she does only get four years just remember to act remorseful if you ever get caught killing a kind. Pathetic!

  • -2

    gogogo

    This is the biggest problem in Japan! In family murders get no punishment!

    The system needs to fit the crime and not whether they are sorry or there was money involved (cases involving money like robbery always get hard time)

  • -5

    ChibaChick

    I wonder how any of us would act if we are chronically sleep-deprived and drugged up to the eyeballs. Ive lost it before. Not to the point of killing someone, but I feel like Ive been near-out of my mind with exhaustion and trying to keep it all together completely on my own. When I got to that point, I tended to lock myself away in the bathroom with a good book and a cup of tea, or just breathe until I came back down to earth again. But then, I wasnt on a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. Not usually, anyway :)

    No excuses for this woman though. What she did was absolutely wrong and she must have known it - she was lucid enough to be able to bind and tape the child and seal him into plastic bags. Who does that? Even if you lose it to the point that you think about it, or even START doing it, surely there would come a point very quickly, as a Mother, that you check yourself. Even if she did then fall asleep, not surprising really with the cocktail of alcohol and drugs sloshing around inside her, she must have known what she was doing was dangerous before she fell asleep.

    Im just wondering though, where the rest of the family was at 11am on a Sunday morning? I totally get chronically sleep-deprived stressed out mothers losing it. I can never understand though losing it to the point that they would actually harm their child. You would have to actually be temporarily insane. Perhaps she was.

  • -1

    regh521

    i know how it feels how to get so extremely stressed out and to literally lose it, but we are otona/adult enough to know how to control our emotions and not take it out on our own children. i wish for this woman to suffer as much as his son has for all those minutes that he has been trying to seek out air. 4 years for this crime? what a joke!

  • -1

    Bear27840

    To serve four years for murdering her own son?

    If you want to know the problem with society, this shows what that problem is.

    Her attorney told her to cry very hard and she would have to serve very little time so she can be out of prison to do it all over again.

  • -1

    Dennis Bauer

    Four years? Why not give her the "Mother of the year" award while your at it.

  • -1

    Godzillajapan84

    My god this world is insane say she does get 4 years then she gets out and wants her other children but the father wants full custody based on what i hear about custody battles in Japan please tell me she wouldn't get custody!!!

  • 0

    Tiger_In_The_Hermitage

    This is tragic, RIP little man!

    Obviously the parents loved him, buying him what he wanted etc but thats just the wrong approach. I can appreciate that no one taught these guys parenting and they probaly learnt it the wrong way from their parents. It is stressful to make ends meet and looking after kids in this costly society. Just sad how whe delt with her son, just a very sad case. the mother needed help, mentally.

  • 0

    nico00

    @ChibaChick,

    Sadly these sleeping medications, especially when mixed with alcohol, can cause people to do the strangest of things. You don't always remember what you did, but sometimes you do. Think of a dream, and how you act in a dream is different than how you'd act in real life. These medications make you act out a dream in real life. The Z-drugs are especially notorious for this. They'll even cause you to sleep walk and take more of the pills!

    There's a really great possibility here, that what this woman remembers is a dream acted out in reality. But psychologically, the brain makes its owner believe they were in control. Which is why she might not recognize she was in a dream at the time, and will try to explain it rationally, that she was giving out a punishment.

    Either way, it's sad all round.

  • 0

    Abhorsenaube

    I don't think 4 years is enough however the article portrays and states the woman as "remorseful". I'm not a parent but I'm sure her living the rest of her life with what she'd done, always reminded by the presence of her 3 other children and husband (assuming the father/husband stays with her). That would be its own purgatory for any normal, sane person.

  • 0

    Kittychosen

    Shigeta grabbed the boy and bound his hands and feet with plastic twine, then covered both his mouth and eyes with tape. Finally, she pulled a garbage bag over the boy's head and thrust his feet into another, drawing them together at his waist and sealing them shut. "I intended to untie him once he'd apologised," the mother later said.

    Just how was he supposed to apologise then??

  • 0

    AramaTaihenNoYouDidnt

    A total mental case of "I'm fed-up with your mess." RIP, Koshi-san.

  • 0

    UsagitoSaru

    how was he supposed to apologize with his mouth covered in tape and tied inside of a garbage bag? why the hell did this woman drink alcohol with medication to begin with? there is something seriously wrong in her head to do any of this. I get angry at my 5 year old students and their smart ass remarks and I am sure their mothers do too but..to go this far..

  • 0

    rastus01

    This article is not just unreasonably sympathetic to the mother - it goes into victim blaming of the child in 6 seperate places.

    If this doesn't stand out because of cultural difference, try rereading the article but inserting "father" everywhere "mother" is. It becomes not only obvious but sickenly offensive.

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