Nursing assistant gets 24 years for lacing colleague’s drink with drug, causing her death in car crash

A 72-year-old former nursing assistant at a home for the elderly in Inzai City, Chiba Prefecture, has been sentenced to 24 years in prison after being convicted of causing the death of her colleague.
The court ruled Tuesday that Aiko Hatano put a sleep-inducing drug into her colleague’s coffee which caused the victim to die in a car crash at around 5:30 p.m. on Feb 5, 2017, Fuji TV reported.
The victim, Keiko Yamaoka (then 60), and Hatano were colleagues at the nursing home. After drinking the tainted coffee, Yamaoka was driving back home when she lost consciousness. Her car veered into the opposite lane and crashed into an oncoming vehicle.
The Chiba District Court ruled that Hatano had intent to murder her colleague, by stating she was aware that Yamaoka would be in danger of causing a car accident. The presiding judge pointed out that the defendant completely disregarded the importance of life.
Yamaoka’s youngest son, who was present during the sentencing, said, “Not once did Hatano shed a tear or show any signs of remorse for her senseless crime.”
Hatano was first arrested in June of 2017 for attempting to injure a coworker, by lacing her drink. Footage recorded on the coworker's smartphone showed Hatano pouring white liquid into the woman's drink while she was away from her desk. It then showed the suspect returning to the desk and shaking the cup, the sources said.
Prosecutors said Hatano repeatedly spiked her colleagues' beverages. She used the same type of medication herself, which she kept in her desk at the office, and also had access to medication prescribed to the nursing home residents.
She was also charged with attempted murder for allegedly lacing the drinks of a 69-year-old female coworker and the coworker's 71-year-old husband in May 2017 before they drove home, attempting to kill them in a car crash.
Investigators then looked into the crash involving Yamaoka and in July 2017, charged her with murder in that case.

© Japan Today/Kyodo
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