Journalist Jacqueline Wanjiku Maribe and her fiancé, Joseph Kuria Irungu, will on Monday 15 October be charged in connection with the murder of Monica Nyawira Kimani.
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Maribe and Irungu sat inches from each other when they were arraigned at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi.
The two, joined together by love and a promise of eternal companionship during happier times, were now in the dock, brought together by a capital offence that could see them face the hangman’s noose if found guilty.
Justice Jessie Lesiit allowed the prosecution's request to detain them until Monday 15 October before pleading to the charges and ordered that Maribe is taken to Mathare Hospital for examination.
From Monday 15 October, the two are expected back in court where they will begin perhaps the greatest battle of their lives.
Yesterday was the first time the two came so close to each other after 11 days of detention in separate police stations as investigators put together evidence of Ms Kimani’s murder in her apartment on the night of September 19.
They avoided eye contact in the dock and did not talk to each other.
Dressed in a black blouse with white dots and blue jeans, Maribe’s sad face and teary eyes were a contrast to the jovial television girl who lit up the screens on a local TV channel.
Journalists — her former colleagues — trained their cameras on her as the proceedings went on.
On a normal day, Maribe would be with her colleagues on the other side of the dock focusing on the suspect, but yesterday she was the subject of the story, alongside her boyfriend, who kept his head covered until the judge entered the court.
A few weeks ago, the two must have been inseparable going by the pictures they posted on social media to announce their engagement.
According to the charge sheet filed in court, Irungu alias Jowie, and Maribe are accused of the murder of Kimani at her Lamuria Gardens Apartment in Kilimani in Nairobi County on the night of September 19 and September 20.
The two, however, did not plead to the charges after the prosecution sought time to have a mental assessment done on Maribe to ascertain if she is fit to stand a murder trial.
“We have a mental assessment for Irungu, which confirms he is fit to stand trial, but we are requesting to defer the plea to Monday next week to have Maribe’s mental assessment report,” said State Prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki.
Judge asks for Maribe's mental assessment before a plea is taken
Maribe’s lawyer, Katwa Kigen, demanded she is allowed to plead to the charges immediately, arguing that her continued stay in custody without being charged violated her rights.
But Justice Lesiit allowed the prosecution's request to detain the two until Monday and ordered that Maribe is taken to Mathare Hospital for a mental examination.
“It is not about persuasion to have the accused plead today but about something which is practical. She cannot plead to the charge without a mental assessment. I, therefore, grant the prosecution time to have her examined before taking plea,” said Lesiit.
She ordered that Maribe be detained at Lang’ata Women's Prison and Irungu at Industrial Area Remand Prison.
The judge also directed the officer in charge of Industrial Area Remand Prison to take Irungu for treatment after he complained that he had been denied medical care.
Lawyer Cliff Ombeta told the judge that Irungu’s left hand had gone numb and part of his body was paralysed after police officers refused to take him to a hospital for treatment for a bullet wound.