Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will recall that in May of last year I began to cover a trial of two American men jailed in Tokyo after the death of a young Irish exchange student. Initially, I became interested in the trial because there were rumors that the two young men were part of Nicki Minaj’s Japanese tour. One was a musician, and the other a dancer. It turned out that the two men were on tour with Ai. The four met following a Nicki Minaj concert and tragically, Nicola ended up dead. Over the months that followed I became interested in the case. This blog was relatively new at the time, and I was surprised at the sudden rise in viewers from both Ireland and Japan. There was very little coverage of this story in the United States. In previous articles, a number of comments began to appear from friends and family of the two Americans involved. Richard Hinds, who was accused of murder at the time. had many supporters. He was very active in the Memphis music scene and in his church. Former girlfriends and musical mentors commented that Rich, as they refer to him was innocent and that it was not in his nature to commit the heinous acts he was accused of. Fundraisers were set up for Richard and family and friends held frequent prayer vigils. Their comments were heartbreaking. Several Irish journalists began contacting Tamaratattles hoping to contact those commenting on behalf of Richard Hinds. We were practically the only stateside coverage of the trial at that time. Continue reading
Category Archives: James Blackston
The murder trial of American musician Richard Hinds continued today in Tokyo. Hinds is accused of strangling Irish exchange student Nicola Furlong following a Nicki Minaj concert last spring. Nicola and her friend met up with Hinds and dancer James Blackston following the concert and met up with them for drinks in the entertainment district of Tokyo. At the bar the girls began to fall into unconsciousness and the two men took them to their hotel room. Nicola and her friend were wheeled into two separate hotel rooms in wheelchairs. Nicola with Hinds and her friend with Blackston. Police alleged that Hinds strangled Nicola and she was found dead in his room after someone in a neighboring room reported a disturbance. The medical examiner has ruled the cause of death as strangulation and has ruled out date rape drugs as a factor. The other student who was in Blackston’s room was allegedly sexually assaulted in the cab ride which was recorded by the taxi’s camera. Blackston has a separate charge and has not yet gone to trial. Click through for today’s events. Continue reading
The family of Nicola Furlong was also expecting a preliminary trial of sorts this week where formal charges would be brought against Hinds and that has so far failed to happen.
Thank you for being respectful in the comment section. Please be aware that friends and family of all sides of this matter are in either a state of grieving or disbelief. I think that all sides can agree that they want the truth to come out and justice to prevail, whatever that may be. Until we get more facts on this case, neither side can come to terms with a tragedy that has resulted in the death of one young woman and the sexual assaults of two others. I appreciate the comments, especially from those of you translating Japanese press, but please try to be respectful to the sensitivities of both sides of the issue.
The two men are both being held in Japan currently on charges of “quasi-forcible indecency” which essentially means they groped one or both of the women while they were in a state of extreme intoxication and unable to resist. These charges stem from the taxi ride.
Once in the hotel “S” went to Blackston’s room and Nicola went to Hinds room. Again we have two reports as to what occurred. I tend to believe perhaps both things happened. First, around 3:06 am someone in a neighboring room called the front desk to report noise disturbance coming from Hinds room. It has also been reported that Hinds called the front desk himself around 3:20 am stating that Nicola was not breathing and requesting medical assistance. An ambulance was called and Nicola was pronounced dead.
Later that day, Hinds willingly went with police to be interrogated but because detectives couldn’t keep him in custody without charge for more than 72 hours, they provisionally charged him and Blackston with “quasi-forcible indecency” two days later. Inspectors can keep a person on that holding charge for 23 days then the person needs to be released or formally charged. The 23 day mark is Friday.
Nicola’s father returned from Japan very recently. He spent several days speaking to the Japanese authorities regarding the death of his daughter. He seems to indicate that the case is focused on Hinds and the investigators have a strong case. He was also asked for input on sentencing. It seems probable at this point that Hinds will be charged in the death. Blackston will either be formally charged in the taxi incident or released. It has been reported that the taxi incident was captured on the taxi’s surveillance camera. It remains unclear if Blackston will be implicated in any way for the death of Nicola.
The official police statement said that Nicola died by suffocation through cervical compression. This is widely reported as strangulation in the press. However, the same cause of death could occur from a fall on the neck or as more salacious news media has mentioned, rough sex play.
Hinds, who has only recently been identified in the US media is a keyboardist from Memphis. He was traveling with his brother and some other Memphis musicians as part of Japanese Hip-Hop artist AI’s tour. Blackston was a backup dancer with the tour. Recent reports out of Memphis indicate Hinds was very active in his church and very highly thought of in the community. Family and friends are adamant that he is innocent. Hinds has no previous criminal record in Shelby County.
Update: A new report out of Japan says that Hinds admits to grabbing Nicola’s neck, but he didn’t intend to kill her. If this report is true, he might as well plead guilty and save everyone a lot of heartache. What a sad story this is.
Local Memphis news stations are reporting that the 19 year old held in Tokyo on charges similar to sexual battery in this country is Richard Hinds. He is described as a well known Christian musician with a good reputation in his community. It seems perplexing to those interviewed that he could have anything to do with the death of Nicola Furlong. Japan it seems has a law specifically against drugging someone and molesting them, and charges people with the law somewhat frequently. It is beginning to look to me as though if toxicology reports (which have not been released) indicate that the victim had drugs in her system, the presumption will be that she was given the drugs by Hinds without considering the possibility that the victim may have knowingly ingested them or been unknowingly given them by another person at the club the foursome went to together prior to Furlong’s death. Initial reports out of Tokyo indicated that the cause of death was strangulation. Accurate information on this case is very difficult to ferret out. I’ll keep you updated as the story develops. Meanwhile, click the Nicola Furlong tag below this post to see all previous posts on this topic.
Two have been charged with “waisetsu-zai ” which is a sex crime that involves drugging someone and then groping them while they are too drugged to defend themselves. It is believed that the victim of the current charges was not the murder victim, Nicola Furlong, but her friend that she attended the concert with. So far it appears that neither of the two being held have been charged with the death of Nicola. For details of the events of the evening, click here.
Blackston is pictured at left signing a shoe for a Japanese student. He was teaching dance in a local school on May 21. You can see video of Blackston dancing on a Japanese train here.Nicola was buried in her Irish hometown last Sunday. Today, her father has flown to Tokyo in search of answers with regard to Nicola’s murder. It is expected based on Japanese laws, that formal charges could be filed within the next week. Japanese prosecutors have a notoriously high conviction rate because the meticulously build their cases before formally bringing charges.