For seven years, the family of Sarah Wambui Kabiru, a former NTV journalist, has patiently waited for the conviction and sentencing of the man who is accused of killing their 28 year old daughter.
This man, a journalist too by profession and a husband to the deceased, is Moses Dola. He was on Friday found guilty of manslaughter.
Being the D day, faces of both the accused and the deceased’s family showed anxiety and curiosity during the tense court session.
When the time came, High Court judge Roseline Korir went straight to the point; she ruled that there was no doubt death was proved and that the deceased died an unlawful death.
However, Justice Korir said that evidence adduced during trial showed that Mr Dola did not intend to kill his wife and mother of their now nine-year-old son.
“It is clear that the accused assaulted her, inflicted injuries on her by pushing her against the wall, this action was done by no one else other than the accused which could mean that he actually caused her death,” said Justice Korir.
She added: “I am not sure he intended to kill her, the court is prepared to give him the benefit of doubt.”
Ms Kabiru was killed on May 1, 2011 at the couple’s house in Nairobi’s Umoja estate. Her lifeless body was found in their locked bedroom carefully tucked in bed.
On the fateful day, the accused allegedly left his dead wife in their house and went on a drinking spree while pretending that all was well.
THE ACCUSED’S PLEA
It is the deceased’s brother and neighbours who later found her lifeless body in the locked bedroom of their house while Mr Dola allegedly went into hiding for a few days before surrendering himself to the police in Naivasha.
Their house help told court that it is the deceased who used to get her the baby in the morning but on that day, it is the accused who handed her the child.
In his defense, Dola told court that the deceased almost hit her with a pair of scissors and that they struggled as he attempted to snatch it from her but they both fell on the bed and the accused got hurt.
Through his lawyer Cliff Ombeta, the accused pleaded for leniency saying he is remorseful of his actions.
“My heart goes out to the family of the deceased. It was never my intention to kill her, I valued my family but I lost it. I pray that our families be reconciled even if it is through mediation but most importantly I want court to know that I never intended for this to happen and I am really sorry,” Dola told the court.
The night before Ms Kabiru’s death, the accused is reported to have prepared dinner, and that the deceased complained about the loud music which he played before they went to the bedroom.
The murder trial started in 2011 but had to kick off afresh on February 10, 2014 after the mother of the deceased screamed when the court was told that the hearing would be postponed because the presiding judge was not present.
Justice Nicholas Ombija, who was hearing the case, had at the time appealed against a decision by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board, which found him unfit to serve as a High Court judge.
Three witnesses had already testified before him. Prosecution presented a total of 16 witnesses for the fresh trial.
On Friday, the judge dismissed Mr Dola’s defense saying that his conduct after that fateful morning of seeking the deceased’s brother while appearing disturbed, drinking alcohol at 8am and turning himself in at the Naivasha police station were a clear indication of regret.
She said that since it is the couple and their child who was two years old at the time who were in their bedroom, the accused most likely overpowered his wife and hence culpable of the murder.
She further pointed out that indeed evidence tendered by the prosecution revealed that there was a strained relationship between the couple because the accused had lost his job.
“The accused became abusive from the testimony presented, clearly this was a couple under pressure and I’m certain that they did not just fight that night because of loud music,” said Justice Korir.
She added: “Findings were consistent by those who viewed the body, they were not challenged by the accused which is proof that she suffered an unlawful death.”
The court also heard how the couple’s son was taken for counselling after confronting his grandparents to tell him the whereabouts of his parents after hearing his playmates talking about their parents.
Despite the court having reached a conviction, the ruling will have to await a pre-sentence report ordered for by the judge within 21 days.
Until, then the accused will remain in custody while his in-laws continue to wait for justice.
Just as the judge concluded, Ms Kabiru brother and aunt broke down in the courtroom, while her parents who were seated side by side remained calm.