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Man jailed to life imprisonment for strangling wife

A businessman who sprinkled a pesticide on the face of his wife after strangling her to purport that she had committed suicide in Kisii estate of Thika sub-county has been sentenced to life imprisonment by Kiambu High court.

After the heinous murder, Charles Kyalo Mwathe (50) called his brother-in-law, informing him that the deceased had consumed poison and died.

He then travelled to  upcountry to report the death to her parents before returning to report the incident to Makongeni Police Station where he was locked up for questioning later in the evening.

Lady Justice Christine Meoli in her sentence noted that prior to the murder, there was indeed tension within the family.

She however regretted saying “the level of tension described in the evidence however cannot justify the murder of the deceased, which was aggravated by the accused’s attempt to cover up his offence by not only dusting her face with white powder which was a pesticide, but also by reporting to her siblings that she had committed suicide.”

Particulars of the offence are that on the night of November 6 and , 2015 within Kisii estate, Makongeni area of Thika west sub-county in Kiambu County, the accused murdered his wife Rose Kasyoka Masila contrary to section 203 as read with section 204 of the penal code.

He pleaded not guilty and the prosecution built up their case through 8 witnesses accordingly. That the accused and deceased were man and wife, cohabiting at a place known as Kisii. The couple was blessed with 2 boys aged 16 and 10 years by then.

The prosecution stated that the elder boy was at a boarding school, while the younger one lived with his parents.

They lived peacefully in the early years of their marriage and established their home on their own plot.

Unfortunately, the accused was faced with hard times and the deceased was unhappy that he was not playing his part of supporting his family. As a result, she confided in her brother who testified as PW2 and her parents.

In October, 2015, the parents and other relatives held a meeting with the couple in a bid to resolve the matter which was then resolved and he apologized and promised to change.

On the evening of the murder, the deceased collected her 10-year-old son from school, made supper and left for some meeting in the company of a former employee of the family and friend, Penina Katui Wambua who testified as PW3 and was also the couple’s next-door neighbor and tenant.

By 8.00 pm, the deceased had not returned and the accused and his son ate their supper. The deceased and her neighbor returned before 10.00p.m and also had their supper. The deceased and neighbor who testified as PW3 retired to bed.

The son also went to bed leaving the accused watching television. No commotion was heard in the house until after 4.30 a.m-5. 00a.m when the child noted the accused leave the house. When the uncle arrived at the said house at about 8.00a.m to check on the mother after being called, he found the boy watching the television and he had no information that the mother was dead.

The accused did not return but called his brother-in-law early in the morning and reported that the deceased had taken poison and died. That was when he proceeded to his sister’s house and found the body of the deceased in bed and fully covered. Upon uncovering it, he noted white powder around the face. He reported at Makongeni Police Station upon which the officers visited the scene and removed the body to the mortuary.

Later at 6.00p.m, the accused presented himself at the police station and reported that he had a quarrel with his wife on the night of 6th November and that he had left home only to return the next day to find her dead. He was detained. On the 9th November, a post mortem examination of the deceased body was conducted by Dr. Josephine Muthomi who completed a post mortem form that was produced as an exhibit on her behalf by Dr. John Mathaiya.

According to the report, the body had no external injuries save for petechial hemorrhage in the eyes due to burst blood vessels. Internally, there was bruising in the left anterior chest wall and bruising on the hyroid bone muscles and pulmonary edema. The cause of death was identified to be asphyxia due to throttling. He was therefore charged with murder upon completion on the investigations.

Upon being put on his defense, the accused elected to make an unsworn statement. On the material day, he said on the deceased returned home and when she found him watching television, she demanded to know why he had eaten food that he did not help to provide. When he sought an explanation, the deceased allegedly got enraged and grabbed him by the scuff of the neck. A fight ensued and in the course of the ensuing scuffle, he noted the deceased had become unconscious and was actually dead.

He stated that it was not actually his intention to kill her except that he had pushed her off and she was hit by the bed frame. He proceeded to call his brother-in-law and notified him and also travelled upcountry to notify the parents then proceeded to Makongeni Police Station to report when he was detained and that he regretted the incident.

At the close of the prosecution evidence, Justice Meoli noted that the prosecution had proved their case beyond reasonable doubt and the court convicted him accordingly as charged.

During the proceedings, he was represented by Mr. S. Juma Saenyi who pleaded with the court to be lenient with the accused saying he had shown willingness to reform. The defence pleaded for a non-custodial sentence for the accused whom he represented on pro-bono.

According to a victim impact assessment report by the Kiambu County Director of Probation services. Margaret Nyabuto, the relatives of the accused were emotional throughout, pleading with the court to grant him community service sentence on the pretext that he was quick to anger and had no intention of killing his wife. The local administration stated that he was not a problematic person and that the family had forgiven him.

The Judge delivered the sentence virtually owing to the prevailing containment measures instituted by the Government to curb covid-19 pandemic. He was given 14 days right of appeal.

By Lydia Shiloya

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