LOS ANGELES – No evidence of foul play was found in the jail-cell death of a Japanese businessman accused of a decades-old murder-conspiracy involving his wife, a police official said Monday.
Deputy Chief Mark Perez, commander of the Office of Professional Standards, said the investigation is open. Police have said that Kazuyoshi Miura appeared to have killed himself but Miura's attorney Mark Geragos said Sunday that a private pathologist found injuries consistent with homicide.
Miura, 61, was found dead Oct. 10 in a Los Angeles Police Department jail cell. Police said he hanged himself with a piece of his shirt less than 24 hours after he was returned to the United States to stand trial for conspiring to murder of his wife 27 years ago.
Geragos said pathologist David Posey found deep tissue injuries on Miura's back that indicated a beating. He also said a hematoma on Miura's larynx could have come from forced choking and that Posey concluded the injury could not have been caused by self-inflicted hanging.
Geragos said the pathologist's findings were "consistent with murder."
Perez said Monday that an inmate heard moaning from Miura's cell and banged on his door to alert a guard. He also said Miura was in his cell alone and that the only way to gain entry was with a key.
He said Miura was visible through a glass and mesh window at the top of the cell door.
Geragos said Monday by phone that Posey believed the Los Angeles coroner's office "did not go deep enough" to find the injuries he documented.
But Perez said the Police Department's investigation will not be completed until the Los Angeles County coroner's office submits its final report. He said he did not know when that would be.
Geragos has said Miura was looking forward to defending himself at trial and showed no signs of contemplating suicide. He was not under suicide watch, Perez said.
Attorneys from Geragos' office declined comment.
The Miura case was a sensation in Japan, where it was known as "the Japanese O.J. case." It began Nov. 18, 1981, when Miura and his wife Kazumi were shot by unknown assailants in a downtown Los Angeles parking garage after a day of sightseeing. Miura was shot in the leg and recovered, but his wife was shot in the head and died after lingering in a coma for a year.
Miura was convicted in 1994 in Japan of plotting his wife's death and was sentenced to life in prison, but the Japanese Supreme Court reversed the case and acquitted Miura in 2003.
Los Angeles County charged Miura with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in 1988. He was arrested in February during a trip to the U.S. territory of Saipan and extradited to the United States to face a murder conspiracy charge.