Murder suspect said wife had an affair, witness tells court

Murder suspect Ibrahim Rotich. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

A witness in the case on the murder of international athlete Agnes Tirop has told the court how Ibrahim Rotich, the prime suspect, confided in him about his wife’s alleged infidelity.

John Samoei, a friend of the couple, told Justice Robert Wananda at the High Court in Eldoret that the marriage was on the rocks.

Samoei said that Rotich once called him for a meeting in Eldoret town where he said he suspected that the athlete was cheating on him with a Kenya Defence Force officer.

He said the accused argued that the man had been calling his wife often. “Rotich called me two years ago for an urgent meeting to iron out domestic issues that he had with his wife. He proposed that we meet, claiming that he could not discuss the matter on phone,” Samoei said.

“After a few days, Tirop, 25, who was out of the country arrived and the couple visited my home in Kesses. They appeared jovial, they had a meal and spent the night at my place after which Rotich told me that they had reconciled.”

The car dealer said they have been close friends with the suspect for more than 11 years and that Rotich introduced him to the deceased in 2015 as his wife.

He also told the court how Tirop was officially married to Rotich under the statute on March 15, 2016. At the time, Tirop was 20 while Rotich was 37.

He produced a marriage certificate, which showed him as a witness to the marriage.

Samoei revealed how together with his wife Esther Koech, they escorted the two to the Register of Marriages in Eldoret.

He also recounted incidents in which Rotich would use suicide threats to manipulate the slain athlete not to quit their marriage.

He said on the day Tirop was declared missing and later found murdered, Rotich had called him saying he was stressed and that he wanted to commit suicide by jumping from the KVDA tower in Eldoret town.

"I rushed to the said building but I was told that he (Rotich) had driven away to Kabarnet," said Samoei.

Rotich is accused of killing Tirop at their house in Iten town, Elgeyo Marakwet, in October, 2021. The suspect went missing after the incident and was arrested in Changamwe, Mombasa, days after the body of the athlete was discovered in her two-bedroom house.

He pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and is out on Sh500, 000 cash bail.

The trial was adjourned until December 15.