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Charges over Japanese producer son's murder

A couple have been charged with murder after a Japanese film producer's son who had dated one of them was stabbed to death.

Scott Barker, 23, and Chie Johnson, 20, were charged with murdering Katsutoshi Takazato, whose body was found on Tuesday outside his father's home in a normally tranquil and exclusive Beverly Hills neighbourhood.

Mr Takazato's father, Fuminori Hayashida, produced several films in the 1990s, including Lured Innocence starring Dennis Hopper.

Prosecutors said his son had until recently dated Johnson, who then started dating Barker. She told her new boyfriend that Mr Takazato had physically abused her, prompting Barker to become enraged and stab Mr Takazato.

Barker's lawyer Brad Brunon refused to comment about the relationship between the victim and both suspects, saying the facts about the case were not yet clear.

It was not immediately clear how Johnson might have been involved in the incident. Police would not release details of the case.

Outside the home where Mr Takazato's body was found, friends created a makeshift shrine. Flowers, memorial candles and handwritten tributes were placed on a retaining wall, along with photos of Mr Takazato and an origami bird.

No-one answered an intercom at the gate outside the sprawling, white brick home. Neighbours said a party was being held the night of the stabbing.

Said Hakim, who lives across the street, said Mr Takazato was friendly and often smiled and greeted his neighbours.

"He was no annoyance to the neighbours, and he had a lot of friends," Mr Hakim said. "He was a nice guy."

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