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Documents: 92-year-old accused of killing wife near death in hospice care

Masaharu Ono, 92, seen here in 2015, a man accused of killing his wife at their south Sacramento home nearly three years ago, is near death in hospice care, ravaged by dementia and diagnosed with terminal liver failure, court documents show.
Masaharu Ono, 92, seen here in 2015, a man accused of killing his wife at their south Sacramento home nearly three years ago, is near death in hospice care, ravaged by dementia and diagnosed with terminal liver failure, court documents show. Sacramento Bee file

Masaharu Ono, the nonagenarian Sacramento man accused of killing his wife at their south Sacramento home nearly three years ago, is near death in hospice care, ravaged by dementia and diagnosed with terminal liver failure, court documents show.

Ono, now 92, had been the oldest inmate at Sacramento County Main Jail since his arrest at 89 in the death of his wife, 83-year-old Hiroko Ono, in June 2014, before a Sacramento Superior Court judge on April 7 ordered his release to Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento to be placed in hospice care.

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

The doctor went on to say, according to court records, that “given Mr. Ono’s dementia, he lacked capacity to make decisions for himself and believed that Mr. Ono had less than six months to live.”

Such was Ono’s condition that when prosecutors told his attorney April 4 that Ono was being returned to Sacramento County Main Jail, a Kaiser nurse urged defense attorneys to notify the court so sheriff’s deputies could release the 92-year-old Ono to hospice care, according to court documents.

In her request for compassionate release, Ono’s attorney Tiffanie Leon-Synnott asked that Ono “have appropriate medical comfort care in his last days.”

Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies in June 2014 were called to the south Sacramento mobile home park where the Onos had lived for years after moving from the Bay Area on an emergency call from the park’s manager. Deputies found Hiroko Ono stabbed to death in one of the rooms.

Prosecutors said Masaharu Ono first denied any role in his wife’s death but later told deputies he covered his wife’s body with a blanket after dragging the body into a bedroom.

From the outset of the case, Ono’s mental state was in question. Neighbors told The Bee in the days after the stabbing death that Ono was “gentle” and that the couple rarely fought.

But other neighbors also said they noticed the couple experiencing what they believed to be signs of dementia. Sacramento County adult welfare workers were called to the home at least once in the months before Hiroko Ono’s death, a Masaharu Ono attorney told a judge at a 2015 hearing. Sacramento County would neither confirm nor deny it served the couple.

A Sacramento judge ultimately deemed Ono mentally incompetent to stand trial and in March referred Ono’s case to a conditional release program to determine whether he should be required to undergo treatment.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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