For the quarrelsome family of the late top police officer Timothy Mwandi Muumbo, it does not rain, it pours.
Muumbo’s body has been lying at the Lee funeral Home for the last five years as the family fights over where he should be buried. In the process, his heart and other organs were allegedly stolen.
And as the drama played out in court, last month, the grandson named after him - Timothy Mwandi - suffered a grave misfortune in a foreign country.
Mwandi was sentenced to life in prison in the US for the murder of a 60-year-old following an incident at a motel in the 4400 block of Melrose Avenue Northwest, Roanoke in Virginia. He is a son of Grace Kakali, a daughter of the late Muumbo with his first wife Phiatah Muumbo. Kakali’s siblings have been fighting with their step-siblings, children of their late father’s second wife, Josephine Muumbo, over where he should be buried.
Mwandi was aged 26, in 2018, when the incident happened. In the sentencing reported in Roanoke Times website, he was convicted of first degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding and three counts of attempted robbery, relating to a single incident in January of 2018.
Prosecutors described the crime “as brutal” where Mwandi forced himself into the motel owned by the victim, Ishvarlal Kuvarji Patel, demanding 20 dollar loan. When he was rebuffed, he grabbed a baseball bat and beat him to death, before attacking the old man’s wife Jyotsana and daughter Meeta.
In videos played in court, Mwandi was captured on voice making demands: “Give me the video… or I’ma (sic) kill your daughter,” “I’m gonna knock you out, kill you, just like your daddy.”
He had just crushed a Buick Verano, the luxury car, against a wall when he went borrowing the money. At some point, during the trial, one of the victim’s daughters, Pretal Muldoon, turned to Mwandi and rhetorically painted to him the picture of his crime. Her father, she said, had just recovered from a cancer surgery.
“How can we put into words how your actions destroyed our lives? You took away a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother and friend. You killed my father in front of both my mom and sister. Your actions not only ripped apart my family, but yours as well.”
Mwandi’s mother was the lone defence witness. Roanoke Times says she spoke of her child’s troubled past in Kenya, including mental and sexual abuse, plus his troubled transition to the US.
“He was suffering silently and never knew how to articulate his pain.” Mwandi did not testify in the trial. However, on the day he was sentenced last month, he muttered remorsefully, pleading for mercy.
“I’m not a monster. I’m a good man. That recording, that’s not me. That’s not who I am. I’m truly, from the bottom of my heart, sorry for all that I’ve caused you,” he said.
The paper says officers who saved the day stumbled on a “chaotic and gruesome” scene, with the victim bleeding from head and face as his wife and daughter huddled on the floor covered with blood. The two suffered concussions and collarbone fractures.
Mwandi then dived through a glass window running for his life before he was arrested.
During the trial, his defence attorney Dirk Padgett said Mwandi was defending himself when the fight began, but the whole thing ended up fatally. The lawyer had attempted to pursue insanity defence but dropped it. With her son, now aged 29, spending the next 40 years in jail, her mother maintains he was driven into the crime by mental illness.
In an emotional appeal posted on Go Get Funding website, she pleads: “I went to hospitals to get him the help he needed. I wanted him evaluated for his mental behaviour and provided with the proper treatment. I cried out to my local government to help my son get admitted to hospital but nothing happened until a life was lost.”
In the appeal, she accuses a relative of abusing Mwandi after which he became depressed. She took him to hospital in 2017. She believes her son was experiencing an induced psychosis and was mentally unaware of his actions when the murder happened. She blamed it all on Mwandi’s childhood trauma, and “trauma as a result of losing two of his children and grandparents.”
“He never knew the owner, had never been to the motel before, he just needed help. Things got out of hand and escalated when the owner picked up his baseball bat and struck Timothy with it.”
She says the last thing her son remembers was being struck with an object and waking up in hospital with no memory of the incident, he is remorseful and has asked the family for forgiveness.
“Timothy has been in jail for over two years without medical care. My son needs treatment and not life in prison.”
In the appeal, she asks for monetary assistance, saying medical information and facts about his mental illness were not introduced at the trial. The appeal has been filed.