SACRAMENTO—Masaharu Ono, the 89-year-old Sacramento man who has been accused of killing his 83-year-old wife, was arraigned on Tuesday, June 9 in Sacramento Superior Court. Because he does not speak English, an interpreter was provided, who told him in Japanese that he was being charged with murder.
Hiroko Ono was found dead on Friday, June 5 in the couple’s mobile home on the 8600 block of Florin Road. Prosecutors say Ono, who will turn 90 this month, used a knife to kill his wife.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s officials say Ono tried to call 911 Friday morning but his phone was not working. He then went to the mobile home park’s manager, who called dispatchers. Firefighters and paramedics, followed by a medical examiner, arrived at the residence to find Hiroko’s body.
“The cuts to the body were not consistent with a natural death,” said Sacramento County Sheriff Spokesperson Lisa Bowman.
Ono was jailed on Friday and remains held on the jail’s medical floor without bail.
Appearing frail and showing signs of dementia at the hearing, Ono spoke in a whisper to attorney John Perkins through an interpreter.
The couple emigrated to the U.S. more than 40 years ago from Japan and have no family in this country. Ono’s niece Yuki Marayuma told investigators by phone from her home outside Tokyo that her uncle is not violent. She wondered how he could have committed this act given his poor health. “He is very weak and has backaches,” she said. “If they fight, he goes out of the house. He is never violent.”
Friends at the mobile home park are equally baffled and said they never heard the couple fight.
Perkins asked Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette for more time to gather evidence and discuss the case with prosecutors. “I’ve been doing this over 30 years and this is the saddest (case) I’ve seen,” Perkins said. “His memory, thought recognition – he’s disoriented. It’s a really sad case.”
Ono and Perkins will return to court June 19.