Man who killed grandmother handed 10 years in jail


A man accused of killing his grandmother after 'hearing strange voices' in his head has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment by the High Court in Vihiga.

Patrick Kigami Kitungi was accused of the gruesome murder of Betty Minage.

The court said even though Kitungi was remorseful and argued that he was not in the right frame of mind when he hacked his grandmother with an axe, he failed to table sufficient evidence to be handed a non-custodial sentence after pleading guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

“At the time of entering the plea bargain agreement,  he informed the court that he occasionally had mental issues. His case was that at the time he committed the offence, he was being attacked by imaginary people. Unfortunately, he did not adduce any documentation of his prior mental illness or that he was mentally unstable at the material time or that he was currently on treatment at Mbale Hospital,” said Justice Jacqueline Kamau.

“Having failed to discharge this burden, this court had no option but to treat him as a person who was aware of what he was doing at the material time. It is for that reason that this court found and held that the non-custodial sentence that the Probation Officer had recommended herein was not suitable.”

The Judge handed Kitungi 10 years in jail and asked the prison authorities to consider the time he has spent in custody between May 2, 2018, and June 4, 2019, and February 12, 2024, and April 14, 2024, during the trial proceedings, as time served.

The case, which began in 2021 with the man facing murder charges, took a new turn when he entered into a plea bargain agreement with the prosecution, leading to a lesser charge of manslaughter.

On the fateful day, April 8, 2018, Kitungi visited his grandmother's home before he claimed to be under attack by unseen forces leading to a violent altercation that resulted in Minage's death.

Witnesses recounted the horror of discovering Minage's body, with blood oozing from her head, as the grandson stood nearby. She succumbed while undergoing treatment at Mbale Hospital.

A postmortem examination done on April 16, 2018, concluded that the cause of death was “intracranial hemorrhage secondary to trauma."

During the trial, Kitungi expressed remorse for his actions, citing mental health issues and lack of awareness of his actions at the time of killing his grandmother whom they had a good relationship. 

But in a rebuttal, the prosecution pressed for a custodial sentence, emphasizing the severity of the crime and the lack of reconciliation between the families involved.

The state lawyer averred that the deceased’s son was still bitter with Kitungi. “The son informed the court that although he had told the Probation Officer that he had left the matter to the court, he prayed that the accused person be given a custodial sentence since the families had not reconciled,” said the lawyer dismissing a pre-sentence report that recommended a non-custodial term.

According to the pre-sentence report of Benard Musitia, Probation Officer, Vihiga county filed on April 4, 2024, 35-year-old Kitungi, attended Mbale Primary School and Chavakali High School.

The report said he then proceeded to Kisumu Polytechnic to pursue a diploma in Business Education and graduated in 2014.

“He worked as a clerk at Easy Coach Bus Company in Bungoma. He was in a relationship with and had been blessed with one child. He used to drink spirits but later stopped due to ill health and tough economic times,” it reads.

“He was remorseful about the events saying he understood that killing was abhorred, wrong and unlawful. He stated that he was not in the right frame of mind at the material time. He claimed not to have known what was happening until he was arrested.”