Court releases suspect in Nyeri contract killing case

Nyeri tycoon Stephen Wang’ondu, (right) James Mahinda, Eddy Kariuki, Raphael Wachira and Geoffrey Warutumo at Nyeri High Court on March 2, 2021.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

The High Court in Nyeri on Wednesday released one of the remaining suspects in an alleged contract killing case, barely a month after the death of businessman Stephen Wang’ondu, who was accused of orchestrating the murder of his son.

Justice Florence Muchemi freed Mr Geoffrey Warutumo after the court heard that prosecutors had withdrawn the murder charge against him.

Mr Wang’ondu had been accused of planning the killing of his son Daniel Mwangi, but he died from an illness while awaiting trial.

He had been charged alongside Mr Warutumo, Mr James Mahinda, Mr Eddy Ngari and Mr Raphael Kariuki.

Prosecutors, led by Duncan Ondimu, said Mr Warutumo was not involved in the planning and execution of the murder as he was only asked to find two persons who were to undertake the assignment.

Not aware of plot

Mr Ondimu said Mr Warutumo was not aware why he was being asked to find the two persons.

“In fact, on the fateful day when the plot was executed, the suspect did not leave Embu County yet the incident occurred in Mwiyogo area in Nyeri,” he said.

The court also sentenced Mr Mahinda, another suspect in the case, to two years’ imprisonment and one-year probation.

The sentencing followed a plea-bargain agreement he signed with prosecutors after he pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of neglect for the offence of murder.

In her judgement, Justice Muchemi said that she had noted the circumstances that led Mahinda to commit the offence.

Acting on instructions

She said Mahinda, who was Wang’ondu’s driver, was acting on instructions from someone who had influence over him.

“The court also considers that he is a young man of 38 years with a family of two, with his youngest child being two years old,” she said.

But the judge said that the court had a duty to society to punish the accused so as to prevent such cases in future.

Prosecutors had said Mahinda participated in the plot by transporting the hired hit men, Mr Ngari and Mr Wachira, to the target’s home, where they carried out the murder.

The murder case against the remaining suspects continues.

The two denied the murder charge after prosecutors amended the charge sheet by removing the late Wang’ondu from the case.

Prosecutors have lined up 20 witnesses to testify against the accused.

Both Mr Warutumo and Mahinda will be used as prosecution witnesses in the trial.

The case will be heard in November.


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