REDWOOD CITY -- A Japanese diplomat will have to spend at least six months in jail after being sentenced Monday on charges he beat his wife during heated confrontations sparked by domestic squabbles.

Though San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Craig Parsons sentenced Vice Consul Yoshiaki Nagaya, 33, to a year behind bars, he'll have to serve half that as long as he behaves well. Nagaya, who is out of custody on $350,000 bail, is slated to turn himself in May 4 to the San Mateo County jail.

Nagaya's future with the Japanese Consulate of San Francisco was unclear Monday. The specialist in information technology, who develops relationships with local and Japanese firms, has remained on the job since he was booked on the charges in April 2012.

"As of today he is vice consul," said Deputy Consul General Nobuhiro Watanabe. "We have duly reported to Tokyo the developments and they will make any decisions."

Nagaya is a Japanese national who could face deportation because he pleaded no contest in December to two felony counts of domestic violence and was sentenced to a year in jail. But his status as a diplomat, as long as he keeps his job, may protect him from getting kicked out of the United States, said immigration attorney Rosy Cho, who is not involved in the case.

As a diplomat Nagaya can't be prosecuted for misdemeanor crimes, but that protection doesn't extend to felonies.


Advertisement

The two felony counts are a fraction of the 17 charges originally filed against Nagaya stemming from the 18 months of alleged violence that started at the couple's San Francisco home in January 2011 and continued when they moved to San Bruno, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors alleged Nagaya punched, kicked and choked his wife Yuka Nagaya during fights over things like disrupted sleep. She photographed her injuries and meticulously recounted them to deputy District Attorney Tricia Povah during a preliminary hearing on the evidence. But defense attorney Garrick Lew poked holes in the case, including the allegation Nagaya had knocked out one his wife's teeth during a fight. Her dentist testified the tooth was decayed and fell out while she was eating, Lew said. That allegation was among those dismissed after the preliminary hearing. Prosecutors dropped another 10 counts, including allegations Nagaya stabbed his wife with a screwdriver, as part of the plea bargain.

"They got married at a young age," said Lew. "It was a relationship that kind of became toxic, yet none of them walked away."

Parsons also ordered Nagaya to serve three years probation, complete a 104 hours of domestic violence education and to stay away from his wife. Yuka Nagaya wasn't in court Monday and attorneys said she has returned to Japan.

Povah said she was happy with the result even though the language barrier and Nagaya's lack of prior convictions hampered the prosecution's case.

"I truly believe Mrs. Nagaya was the victim of serious domestic abuse," said Povah. "I think this was a fair resolution."

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.