Suspects in Sharon Otieno murder want judge to disqualify self, DPP opposes

Lady Justice Jessie Lessit who presided over Governor Obado's case at Milimani Law Courts. (George Njunge, Standard)
Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji on Tuesday opposed an application to have High Court judge withdraw from hearing a murder case against Migori Governor Okoth Obado.

The DPP in his reply against prayers made by Obado’s co-accused Michael Oyamo and Caspal Obiero to have Justice Jessie Lesiit disqualify herself from hearing the murder case argued that their claims of bias against the lady judge were not supported by evidence.

Migori Governor, Oyamo who was his personal assistant and Obiero (Migori County clerk) are accused of killing Rongo University student Sharon Otieno.

"The applications by Michael Juma Oyamo and Caspal Ojwang Obiero are frivolous, unfounded and an abuse of court process. The applications do not meet the required standard required for recusal,” Deputy DPP Jacob Ondari argued in his reply filed in court Tuesday.

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In the case, Oyamo and Obiero claim that they do not stand a chance of justice before Justice Lessit as she has released the Governor while ordering that they remain in remand until the case is settled.

According to Obiero, the judge had allegedly made up her mind on him despite not being mentioned as being one of those who carried out the gruesome murder.

Meanwhile, Oyamo claims that the judge was biased against him as she had allegedly made a comment of him admitting to have participated in the murder.

While disputing the claims by the two, the DPP said that there was nowhere during the hearing that the judge had made an adverse comment which would insinuate a made up mind.

“There is no record or other evidence at all that this honourable court made any remarks that the second accused (Oyamo) had admitted evidence against him,” Ondari replied.

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According to the DPP, his application for the court to deny the two their freedom was different from the murder trial. He argued that the judge was justified to make any orders based on the circumstances then.

Sharon, 26, was killed while seven months pregnant.

The DPP also argued that the arguments before the judge were similar to those which had been filed before the appeal court by Oyamo and Obiero when they appealed her decision.

Her mother Melida Ouma supported the DPP’s quest for the judge to dismiss the applications and order for the case to proceed to full trial.

“Their case should be dismissed and the murder case proceed to pre-trial since no justifiable reason has been presented to warrant refusal of the judge,’’ she argued adding that it was a tactic to delay hearing the case.

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 Oyamo opposed the admission of Mrs Ouma’s opposition saying that victims of crime had no right to battle on which judge should hear the case.

 According to Oyamo, the interests of the deceased’s family was represented by the State.

Justice Lesiit agreed with Oyamo saying that the victim’s participation was limited to bail hearing and also would be given directions on how they would participate in the full trial.

Obado, Oyamo and Obiero were charged with jointly murdering Sharon on the night of September 3 last year at Kodera Forest in Oyugis town, Homa Bay County.

The three were also charged with killing Sharon’s unborn baby, referred to as ‘Baby Sharon’ in the charge sheet.

SEE ALSO :MCAs reject Obado’s public service nominees

 The application on whether the judge should disqualify herself from hearing the case will be heard on May 29.

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Okoth ObadoNoordin HajiSharon OtienoMurder