TOKYO • A one-time millionairess dubbed the "Black Widow" over the untimely deaths of her lovers and a husband admitted that she poisoned her last partner, in a multiple murder case that has gripped Japan.
Chisako Kakehi, 70, is on trial for the murders of three men and the attempted murder of another, all so that she could collect the payouts from the victims' insurance policies.
Kakehi has become notorious over accusations that she killed several elderly men with whom she was involved, drawing comparisons with the spider that kills its mate after copulation.
Prosecutors suspect that she used cyanide to rid herself of her lovers, amassing a reported one billion yen (S$12.2 million) in payouts over 10 years. Reports say she subsequently lost much of the fortune through financial trading.
As her trial began this week into the 2013 killing of her fourth husband, she stunned the court by saying that it was true she had murdered him.
"I was waiting for the right timing as I wanted to kill him out of deep hatred," the Asahi newspaper quoted her as saying on Monday. The Fuji television network also quoted her as saying the crime was just "an issue of money".
But yesterday, she appeared to step back from those statements. "I don't remember (what I said)", she testified, the Mainichi daily reported.
Kakehi's lawyers have argued that she is not guilty of murdering Mr Isao Kakehi on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Kyoto District Court last year said medical examinations found that Kakehi had early-stage dementia but was fit to stand trial.
If convicted of murder, she could face the death penalty. Kakehi shrugged off the prospect on Monday, saying "I'd be happy to die if you give me a drug now", according to the Asahi.
Kakehi had relationships with many men, mostly elderly or ill, meeting some through dating agencies, where she reportedly stipulated that prospective partners should be wealthy and childless.
The final hearing in the murder case will be held in October with the verdict expected to be handed down in November.