Life sentence reduced to 30 years as murder convict wins appeal

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A man handed a life sentence in 2005 for murder will now serve 30 years in jail after a successful appeal.

Justice Martin Muya, of the High Court in Nyeri, revised downwards Julius Wamutitu Muthuita's sentence on Monday saying: “I have perused the High Court judgment and that of the Court to Appeal, and the report by the probation officer. It is noted that the applicant has undergone training and received certificates while in prison for the last 19 years.”

Muthuita filed his appeal before the High Court on February 17, 2020, seeking a fresh hearing of his case and resentencing.

He was convicted and handed the death sentence on August 2, 2005, for murdering his sister-in-law Mary Makumi.

After his jailing, the sentence was reduced to life in prison following a presidential decree.

Justice Muya noted the murder was gruesome in nature as the deceased was hacked to death with a fork jembe following a land dispute.

The court also took note of0 the age of the applicant, who is 77 years old, though no documentary evidence was adduced.

“His life sentence is reduced to 30 years from the time of conviction and sentencing,” the judge said.

Court documents 

The court documents stated that Muthuita, on August 11, 2002, at Theri village in Murang’a County, jointly with others not before the court, murdered Ms Makumi.

Eleven witnesses testified in the case. The first witness, Jane Makumi who is the daughter of the deceased, said on the night of August 8, 2002, she and her mother went to bed at around 9 pm.

She was woken at midnight by a loud bang and then she saw the light of a torch outside the house. The first thing she thought of calling her mother who was sleeping in the next room.

However, before she could call her mother, another loud bang followed and two men entered her room.

One of the men got hold of her and pulled her out of her room. The second man had a fork jembe in his hand.

She started screaming and the man holding a fork jembe dragged her to her mother’s room.

Jane testified that she heard one men telling her mother she should swallow the land, which had been making her take them to court, so that she could die with the land in her stomach.

Paternal uncle

”I recognized the voice to be that of my paternal uncle who is identified as the accused,” Ms Jane said

During the incident, she said, she saw and recognised Muthuita.

Jane noted the convict was wearing a black polythene paper tied on his head. The other men were strangers to her.

She also testified that the accused hit her mother with the fork jembe on her head and told the other men to "start their job". They all attacked her mother.

One of the men pleaded with Muthuita not to kill her.

She said when the men left, she sought help from a neighbour who escorted her to Kahatia chief's camp. 

Land dispute

Another witness, senior chief for Muraria Location Peter Kibathi Chege, said there was a long-standing dispute between the deceased and the accused over her husband's share of family land.

"The cause of the death was as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest, secondary to head injury," Dr Kinyanjui told the court.

In his defence, Muthuita denied committing the offence saying on the material night, he was asleep in his house with his wife and children.

During the conviction, High Court judge Lady Justice Hannah Magondi Okwengu said: “I have weighed the accused arguments against the evidence adduced by the prosecution but find it difficult to believe that the accused and his wife ignored or slept through the commotion including shouting 60 meters away.” 

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