Ex-husband Sentenced for Killing Napa Restaurateur

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Shozaburo and Eiko Nakamura

NAPA — Shozaburo Nakamura, 74, was sentenced Jan. 24 in Napa County Superior Court to 26 years to life in prison for killing his ex-wife and former business partner, Eiko Nakamura, 78.

On Dec. 12, a jury found Shozaburo Nakamura guilty of first-degree murder for stabbing Eiko Nakamura, his wife of 23 years, four times in the neck and 21 times in the back on May 31, 2014 at their home on Pinewood Drive in west Napa. The two had divorced in 1994 but had been living together as roommates since 2008.

Eiko Nakamura was well-known in the local culinary scene as owner of Fujiya Restaurant at Napa Premium Outlets for 24 years and founder of Eiko’s Modern Japanese Cuisine, also in Napa, in 2011. After her death, her business partner, Rick Zaslove, opened Eiko’s Seafood Market & Sushi Bar in her memory.

Police went to the house after a friend had not heard from her for two days. Shozaburo Nakamura admitted to killing his ex-wife, whose body was found in the bathroom.

The Napa Valley Register quoted Assistant District Attorney Paul Gero as saying that the two had argued over the restaurateur’s plans to buy a new home and leave her ex-husband behind. He grabbed a rock in the kitchen and struck her three times in the head, then grabbed a knife and repeatedly stabbed her, Gero said.

In his testimony in December, Nakamura claimed that his ex-wife was abusive toward him and, on the day of the slaying, had mocked him when he said that her plans would leave him homeless and broke.

The victim’s brother, who lives in Japan, asked the court for the maximum sentence. But the defendant’s attorney, Molly Hendry, requested probation, citing Nakamura’s age and stating that he had no criminal record and would not be a threat to the public if released.

Gero argued that many murderers have no prior record and that rather than a crime of passion, the killing was premeditated. Instead of stopping his attack after hitting Eiko in the head — at which point she might have survived — he made a conscious decision to get a knife and stab her 25 times, Gero said.

After the sentence was handed down, Gero commented, “It’s a just sentence for a defendant who committed a brutal murder on a vulnerable victim.”

Nakamura received credit for 969 days already spent in Napa County Jail and was ordered to pay restitution to his ex-wife’s brother.

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