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Three handed life imprisonment for killing State witness

Three men will spend the rest of their life in prison for killing a prosecution witness who testified against two of them in a robbery with violence case 16 years ago.

Daniel Karonji Wahome, David Gituku Kiruhi and Daniel Wachira Kiruhi were condemned to life imprisonment by Justice Jairus Ngaah on Tuesday at the High Court in Nyeri.

Justice Ngaah found that the three were not remorseful of their actions, noting that Mr Wahome and Mr Gituku are former death row inmates.

The three attacked and killed Lucy Wangui Gitau on September 3, 2010, who was their neighbour, at her home in Gituiga village in Othaya.

SETTING HER ON FIRE

They were armed with sharp objects which they used to injure her before setting her on fire. Wangui suffered multiple fatal injuries including cut wounds and burns on different parts of her body.

The prosecution told Justice Ngaah that the deceased died a painful death and that despite her advanced age, the assailants showed no sympathy on her.

Justice Ngaah, in his judgement, noted that the three men were on a revenge mission as the deceased had previously complained and testified against two of them- Mr Wahome and Mr Gituku- in another criminal case at a Magistrate’s Court.

In the old case, registered as Criminal Case No.5461 of 2003, Mr Wahome and Mr Gituku were charged with the offence of robbery with violence, where they were found guilty and sentenced to death. They were alleged to have robbed Ms Wangui and injured her in the process.

However, they lodged a successful appeal against the death sentence and they were subsequently acquitted on August 5, 2010. Four weeks after the acquittal and leaving prison, they attacked Ms Wangui again and killed her.

On the fateful night the deceased had just had supper with her employee David Mwangi Maina in a detached kitchen. As Mr Maina retired to his house, approximately ten metres away from the kitchen, he heard the deceased scream, struggling to call out his name. He responded and rushed outside the house to rescue her.

He found the deceased set ablaze and being attacked by three men. With the help of his torch and the light from the fire, he was able to recognise the accused persons as the assailants.

RELEASED FROM PRISON

Mr Wahome and Mr Gituku lived in the neighbourhood, said Mr Maina and he had known them from the time they were released from prison.

As for Mr Kiruhi, he had known him for the past four years.

Mr Maina testified that Mr Kiruhi had been in the deceased’s employment since, like the rest of the accused, he lived in the same neighbourhood as the deceased.

He named and pointed each of the accused persons in court. The witness described the first two accused persons as having been in jumpers while the third accused wore a black jacket during the incident.

The deceased, according to Mr Maina, was in a seated position, with her back held against the wall as the thugs struck her.

They repelled Mr Maina and ran after him but he escaped and hid in his house from where he shouted for help.

After about 20 minutes he went back to the kitchen and found the deceased still burning but the thugs had left. He was able to put out the fire using water.