Meru man to hang for killing wife, one month old daughter

MERU: A piercing cry of anguish tore through Gikuune sub location in Meru County on the night of November 10, 2007, arousing Joseph Mwangi from his sleep.

Listening keenly, Mwangi realised the screams were coming from his neighbour, John Mutuma's, house. Mutuma lived with his wife and one month old daughter, some metres away. A few minutes later, the howls of pain ended abruptly just as Mwangi reached the scene and started calling out Mutuma's name.

There was no response.

Alarmed by the sudden silence, Mwangi rushed to Stanley Gatobu's house, Mutuma's father, who lived nearby and narrated the incident

When the duo went to Mutuma's house and called out his name, he muttered incoherent words and refused to open the door. They then alerted area administrator Joseph Mwongera who immediately accompanied them back.

It was a few minutes to 2:00am when, on their way back, the trio met with Mutuma ostensibly on his way to report the murder of his family.

"He declined to say what act he had committed in his house only inviting us to go see for ourselves," Mwongera testified in court weeks later.

On arrival, they found the child's lifeless body at the entrance which had severe head injuries seemingly inflicted with a blunt object. The infant's mother lay motionless on the floor and it would later emerge she died of injuries to the head and cervical spine.

Mutuma was arrested on the spot and taken to Githoyo Administration Police post before being booked at Kiriene Police Station. He was later arraigned before the High Court in Meru where he vehemently denied killing his daughter and wife.

He elected to give a sworn testimony when placed on his defense saying on the night in question, he arrived home at about 8:30pm, left about half an hour later to see a friend and came back to find his wife and child murdered.

He was, however, found guilty and sentenced to death but moved to the Court of Appeal in Nyeri insisting on his innocence.

His plea was, last month, dismissed by the appellate bench comprising justices Roselyn Nambuye, Fatuma Sichale, and Patrick Kiage who upheld the lower court's ruling.