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American convicted of murdering Irish student in Tokyo hotel room

By Junko Ogura, CNN
updated 10:01 AM EDT, Tue March 19, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The victim's sister says she doesn't feel the family got justice
  • A Tokyo court finds that Richard Hinds strangled Nicola Furlong
  • It rejected the defense's claim that she died from alcohol poisoning
  • Hinds, 19, is sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, the maximum for a juvenile

Tokyo (CNN) -- A Japanese court on Tuesday found a 19-year-old American man guilty of murdering an Irish student in a Tokyo hotel room last year.

The Tokyo District Court recommended that Richard Hinds, a musician, serve no fewer than five years and no more than 10 years in prison.

The sentence was the heaviest that could be handed down to Hinds, whose age makes him a juvenile under Japanese law.

Judge Masaharu Ashizawa said the evidence showed that Hinds had strangled Nicola Furlong, the 21-year-old Irish woman, with murderous intent in May 2012.

Who killed an Irish student in Tokyo?

Ashizawa said Hinds appeared to have used a towel or something similar to carry out the act, discounting the defense's argument that the victim had died from acute alcohol poisoning.

Furlong had been studying in Tokyo on an exchange program when she met Hinds.

Her parents and sister were in court Tuesday to hear the verdict read out.

"We still don't know the truth of what happened in that room, but we know Nicola did nothing wrong," Furlong's mother, Angela, said afterward.

The victim's sister, Andrea, expressed disgust about the sentence that Hinds received, saying she didn't feel that the family got justice.

"I'm so angry and I'm so hurt," she said.

After Furlong's death last year, her parish priest, the Rev. Jim Fitzpatrick, described her as an "outgoing, bubbly sort of girl and very well liked."

Hinds' parents were also in court for the verdict Tuesday.

Another American man, James Blackston, 23, was found guilty last week of sexually assaulting Furlong's friend on the night the Irish woman died.

2 Americans arrested after death of Irish woman

A court sentenced Blackston, a dancer from the Los Angeles area, to three years in prison.

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