Three suspects in slain woman murder to stay in custody for 14 more days

Suspect in murder of Mary Wambui in court. [John Muchucha/Standard]
Three people arrested after the killing of Mary Wambui Kamangara a fortnight ago have been ordered back to police custody.

Wambui’s mutilated body was found dumped at a dam near Mugutha estate in Juja constituency on January 27.

Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo allowed the police to continue holding Wambui's husband, Joseph Kori Karue, his friend, Judy Wangui Mungai, and Michael Githae Mathenge, a taxi driver, for nine more working days.

The investigating officer, John Wahome, told the court that police needed more time to enable them complete investigations into the killing.

Mr Wahome told the court that Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti had directed the Homicide Department at the headquarters to take over the matter.

“The new team has established some areas had not been fully covered, which include the input of experts who include but not limited to cyber-crime unit, ballistics unit, photographic section and Government Chemist. We are seeking 14 more days to finalise investigations,” said Wahome.

Public interest

The prosecution lawyer, Tom Imbala, supported the application, saying the matter was of great public interest.

Mr Imbala said the investigating team needed sufficient time to enable it and the prosecution to make a decision on the matter.

“This is a very complex matter with a lot of technicalities that requires a lot of time. We want to take to court persons we are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that they are culpable for murder charges,” said Imbala.

He also supported the request by the investigating officer not to release the suspects, saying this would avert possible interference with witnesses.

However, the defence team opposed the application terming it unlawful and illegal.

Lawyer Michael Muriuki, representing Kori protested that his client has been in custody for the past 16 days during which time the police should have completed their investigations.

He said there was no need to continue holding the suspect in custody since in the evidence gathered so far, he was not at the murder scene.

“A lot has been done for the last 14 days. We know the police have taken all the samples needed from the suspects. Statements have been recorded and they have retrieved CCTV footage. We do not understand what the extra 14 days the police need are for,” said Mr Muriuki.

The lawyer told the court the State had no grounds to continue holding his client, whom he described as a family man needed by his children.

"His children have been at home for the past 16 days and they need him," he argued.

He urged the court to release Kori so that he could plan his wife's burial.

He also requested the court to order Kori's vehicle, which was impounded and is currently being held at Juja Police Station, released saying it was not part of the exhibits in the case.

Lawyer Cliff Ombeta, representing Wambui, also opposed her continued detention saying it was a violation of her rights.

He said the detectives investigating the matter did not need to have Wangui in custody to conduct a mental assessment, mobile data analysis and DNA tests.

“The 14 days the prosecution is asking of is unreasonable. The suspects are entitled to bond unless the prosecution has a very compelling reason warranting that they be denied bond,” said Mr Ombeta.

Torture claims

He claimed that officers at Juja Police Station had been torturing his client to force her to make a confession.

“My client has been tortured by several police officers at Juja police station who even put pepper in her private parts seeking some confessions from her."

The lawyer informed the court that his client reported the torture claims to the Juja OCS, but no action had been taken against the officers involved.

He pleaded with the court not to remand Wangui at the police station.

Mathenge's lawyer, David Nyamu, said the prosecution had no compelling reason to continue holding his client. He said the suspect was not a flight frisk and had no capacity to interfere with witnesses.

But the court ruled that there was nothing unconstitutional in police seeking more time to continue holding the suspects and ordered the suspects remanded at Muthaiga Police Station, Nairobi, until February 27.

“This is a very weighty matter that need more time to do investigations and due-diligence to ensure the right people will be charged in the end,” ruled the magistrate.

She also ordered investigations into Wangui's claims of torture.

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Mary WambuiMary Wambui KamangaraMugutha estateMurderCrime