Woman reported dead in Napa

Napa Police officers began an investigation Sunday morning at a Hidden Valley house listed as the home of Eiko Nakamura, namesake and co-founder of Eiko's restaurant on downtown First Street.

Howard Yune/Register

The ex-husband of longtime Napa restaurateur Eiko Nakamura was charged Tuesday with murder, two days after police found her body during a welfare check at the house they shared in west Napa.

According to police, Shozaburo Nakamura, 71, told the officers that he killed his 78-year-old former wife Saturday morning during an argument at the home they shared on Pinewood Drive. Eiko Nakamura was a partner at Eiko’s Modern Japanese Cuisine restaurant in downtown Napa.

On Tuesday, Shozaburo Nakamura, again admitted his guilt, seconds after appearing before Napa County Superior Court Judge Mark Boessenecker.

“I’m 100 percent guilty, your honor,” Nakamura told the judge before Boessenecker cut him off and appointed a public defender.

Chief Deputy Public Defender Greg Galeste, who stood a few feet away, did not enter a plea on behalf of his new client.

Boessenecker set the next hearing July 2. In the meantime, Nakamura, who was booked into the Napa County jail Sunday afternoon, remains in custody without bail.

Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein signed the complaint Tuesday, charging Nakamura with murder and elder abuse resulting in death, with a special allegation.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Allison Haley, who appeared on behalf of the District Attorney’s Office Tuesday, spoke in private with the dozen friends and restaurant employees gathered for the hearing.

Eiko’s reopened late Monday morning. Eiko’s general manager Allison Hallum said the employees’ mood at the restaurant is very somber. Many of the employees had worked for Eiko Nakamura for many years.

“She was so kind and loving. She was a wonderful person,” Hallum said.

In a court filing, Napa Police said Shozaburo, at about 8 a.m. Saturday, allegedly struck his ex-wife with a “blunt object” and stabbed her with a knife during an argument, according to a police filing. Police officers found her body during a welfare check at the residence.

Eiko Nakamua and her husband divorced in 1994 after nearly 23 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences, according to a court filing. They had been separated for three years.

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Eiko continued to run Fujiya restaurant at the Napa Premium Outlets, a restaurant she operated for 24 years.

After closing her sushi restaurant, she teamed with brothers Rick and Mike Zaslove in 2011 to open Eiko’s on First Street.

Shozaburo Nakamura faces up to life in prison if convicted of all the charges.

The Nakamuras had no children, Hallum said. Eiko Nakamura, who was born in Kumomoto, Japan, had lived most of her adult life in the United States. She worked as a hairdresser in Pacifica and at a restaurant in San Francisco before opening Fujiya in Napa in the late 1980s, according to Hallum.

A celebration of life is being planned for 2 p.m. June 14 at Eiko’s following a private memorial service at St. Stephen’s Anglican Episcopal Church in Oakville, according to Hallum.

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