Nonagenarian Accused of Killing Wife Said to Be Near Death

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SACRAMENTO — Masaharu Ono, 92, who is accused of killing his wife at their south Sacramento home, is near death in hospice care, The Sacramento Bee reported on April 21.

Masaharu Ono

The newspaper quoted court documents as saying that Ono is ravaged by dementia and diagnosed with terminal liver failure.

Ono was the oldest inmate at Sacramento County Main Jail when he was arrested at 89 in the death of his wife, Hiroko, 83, in June 2014. A Sacramento Superior Court judge on April 7 ordered his release to Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento to be placed in hospice care. He was last reported to be at a senior center in Rocklin.

According to court records, Ono had been hospitalized for days before the April 7 order, with a Kaiser physician noting to Ono’s attorneys on April 3 that their client was “bed-bound, malnourished, and not eating enough to sustain life.”

The doctor also said that Ono lacked the capacity to make decisions for himself — his niece has power of attorney — and he probably had less than six months to live.

Although prosecutors wanted Ono to be returned to jail, defense attorney Tiffanie Leon-Synnott requested compassionate release and asked that he “have appropriate medical comfort care in his last days.”

Originally from Japan, the Onos had lived in a mobile home park for years after moving from the Bay Area. When Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies were called to their residence by the park’s manager three years ago, they found Hiroko Ono stabbed to death in one of the rooms.

According to prosecutors, Masaharu Ono at first denied having anything to do with his wife’s death, but later told deputies he dragged her body into a bedroom and covered it with a blanket.

Some neighbors told The Bee that Ono was gentle and that the couple rarely fought, but other neighbors said the couple appeared to be showing signs of dementia. A family member also said that Ono was a devoted husband and not prone to violence.

Ono, who required an interpreter during court proceedings, initially faced murder charges, but a Sacramento judge deemed him mentally incompetent to stand trial.

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