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He killed a ‘thief’ who wasn’t a thief, now he’s been sentenced to death

By Harold Odhiambo | May 18th 2021

The Court of Appeal upheld a lower court's ruling which sentenced the murder convict to death. [File, Standard]

The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court’s judgement, which sentenced a middle-aged man to death for taking part in the killing of a man, who had been mistaken for a thief.

On February 28, 2014, Evans Oduor (the convict) had parked his vehicle outside a neighbour’s homestead in Mbita Town, Homa Bay County.

He was “relaxing” in the car, when he saw Eric Ochieng carting away a motorcycle that had been parked outside one of the homesteads.

Several minutes later, a youthful man, Kevin Ochieng, came out of the house and found his motorbike missing. Expectedly, he raised the alarm, attracting Oduor’s attention.

Oduor told Kevin that he had seen Eric carting away the motorcycle.

A spirited search for Eric was launched.

Eric was traced to his house, not so far away from the alleged theft scene the following morning

With the “thief” tag now used on the suspect, Oduor is said to have led a mob in lynching Eric, despite Eric pleading for mercy, claiming he wasn’t a thief.

Eric actually said before his death that he had, for long, suspected Kevin was having an affair with his girlfriend.

On that day (February 28, 2014), Eric had gone to his girlfriend’s house unannounced, and found Kevin had parked his boda boda outside the woman’s house.

Eric said he carted away the boda boda to “punish” Kevin for having an affair with his girlfriend despite Kevin being aware that he (Eric) and the woman were an item.

Eric’s explanation, however, fell on deaf ears as a mob led by Oduor tied him with a sisal rope and assaulted him to death.

The chairperson of Mbita boda boda riders’ association told the court that his pleas to Oduor to spare the suspect went unheeded.

In June 2016, the High Court in Homa Bay found Oduor guilty of murder, and sentenced him to death.

Oduor, however, appealed the decision at the appellate court, arguing he was not directly linked to Eric’s death.

In a recent ruling, however, Court of Appeal judges, William Ouko (now at the Supreme Court), Hannah Okwengu and Fatuma Sichale, said Oduor “formed a common intention with others not before court” to kill Eric.

“We have no doubt that, though many people were involved in administering instant justice on the deceased, from our own re-evaluation of the evidence, the appellant formed a common intention with those others to prosecute an unlawful purpose,” read a part of the judgement delivered on May 13.

The judges dismissed Oduor’s defense – that he wasn’t directly linked to Eric’s death.

“From the injuries noted, bruises all over Eric’s body, injuries on the head leading to bleeding onto the scalp at the occipital region, and a bilateral bleeding in both chest cavities, death or grievous bodily harm was intended, proving malice aforethought in terms of section 206 of the Penal Code,” ruled the judges.

The three-judge bench ruled that the death sentence imposed by the lower court, through Justice David Majanja, was right.

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