Woman earns one day jail sentence for killing husband

Siaya law courts where High Court judge Roselyne Aburili made a landmark ruling that is set to elicit fresh discussions on domestic violence. [File, Standard]

A woman charged with slashing her husband to death in defence has earned her liberty in a plea-bargain deal.

The woman, who used a machete to kill the husband, was ordered to serve a one-day non-custodial sentence after her case was reduced from murder to manslaughter.

In the decision made on International Women’s Day, the court advised everyone in abusive relationships to run for their lives.

The High Court sitting in Siaya also undertook to take care of Trufena Ndonga Aswani’s travel expenses to help her reach a safe place after serving the sentence.

“Run for your lives, both women and men who are abused. There is no love that can never be lost. Yet love should never be lost by killing one another. Find an escape route to safety. Do not condone violence being meted on you,” Justice Roselyne Aburili said.

In the landmark decision set to elicit fresh discussions on domestic violence, the judge said through this judgment, the woman and others who may have undergone domestic and gender-based violence, may have a voice.

The judge said that from the violence the woman endured in the relationship in which a love that had blossomed turned sour, evidence adduced in court described the victim as an irresponsible, violent and brutal human being who did not treat the woman with any dignity or respect at all.

In the case, Jared Obochi (deceased) had returned home late on December 14 after drinking, as was his norm, and was served with dinner. After eating, he picked a quarrel with the accused.

Obochi demanded to be given a title deed for land his father had bequeathed Trufena to protect the family from ending up in the cold. The father had fears that Obochi would sell the property due to his drinking habit.

When she declined, the man grabbed a machete but before he could slash her, Trufena got hold of it and cut her husband several times, killing him. She then dragged the body and concealed it using grass in a neighbour’s farm, some 200 metres away from their home.

“The deceased (victim) was intoxicated as usual and had he killed the accused, it would just add to another case of manslaughter because he was under intoxication and the accused person’s story would never be told by anyone since the dead tell no tales. We would never know that the accused herein was undergoing domestic violence, which she had lived with throughout her marriage,” the judge added.

Prior to her plea taking, the accused had been subjected to a mental examination at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital where she was found to be fit to stand trial. She had initially pleaded guilty to murder but changed this to being guilty of manslaughter.

In her mitigation, she told the court that she had endured domestic violence for several years, which had placed her own life on the line through the frequent beatings she was subjected to by her husband.

Outside her house, she was a respected village elder who many thought had everything in order.

“It is true I killed him but I did not intend to,” she told a stunned High Court sitting in Siaya when she was arraigned to answer to murder charges.

And despite her admission, a plea of not guilty was entered by the court on grounds that her admission to the murder charge had been equivocal.

A plea of guilty was later entered after the charge was reduced to manslaughter, with the accused maintaining her stand on her involvement in her husband’s death.

On Tuesday, however, when the judge’s hammer fell to mark the end of her trial, Trufena walked free in an unusual ruling that not only secured her freedom, but also defended her actions on grounds that she had been a victim of domestic violence who acted in self-defence.