MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — An Upper West Side man convicted of nearly decapitating his 70-year-old father was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years to life in prison.
In May, a jury found Julian Kurita, 33, a sushi chef, guilty of second-degree murder for killing his father, Fumitaka Kurita, known as Frank, during dinner in the family's apartment on West 87th Street two years ago. Prosecutors said Kurita sliced his father's neck from behind, just as his dad was biting into his meal, then cut his own wrists in a failed suicide attempt before calling 911.
During the trial, defense attorney Norman Williams tried to mount an insanity defense, saying his client has long suffered from mental illness and severe delusions.
Kurita's mother, Valerie Kurita, gave an emotional, tear-filled statement at the hearing, saying she loved her son and that even though he "did a terrible thing, just about the worst thing a person could do," his mental illness was to blame for her husband's death.
Her son, she said, suffered from schizophrenia for the past 12 years — she described how her whole family, including her son, had struggled because of his delusions and mental health problems — but that he was also "intelligent, funny, kind." A problem with medications led her son to believe that his parents were "conspiring to have him tortured and beaten," she said.
Valerie Kurita also called the prosecutor's view of mental illness "cartoonish," but she praised Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Charles Solomon for how he handled the case. She also asked that her son be placed in a safe facility where his mental illness could be treated.
But Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon asked the judge for the maximum sentence — 20 years to life — saying that despite mental health problems, Kurita understood the nature of his actions.
"He used to f--k me up when I was kid, and he used to try to rape me and I was abused," Kurita told police.
"There's no telling where he would have been today," Solomon said.
Kurita declined to say anything at the sentencing, but Solomon read from a "lengthy" letter he submitted to the court.
"I took him away from the best years of his life," Kurita wrote of his father. "I wish I could take it back but I can't."
Valerie Kurita said she thought the judge's sentence was "very fair."