The prime suspect in the murder of a Moi University medical student three years ago has confessed to the crime, telling a court that jealousy took over him when he saw her hugging another man.
Naftali Kinuthia confessed before the High Court in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, to hacking his then-girlfriend Ivy Wangeci, 22, using an axe, saying it was due to anger.
In the attack on the morning of April 9, 2019, the man struck Wangeci twice on the head outside Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH).
In court on Friday, Mr Kinuthia, an IT expert, claimed that his relationship with Wangeci started at a primary school they both attended in Thika town and continued when they joined high school, with her at Alliance Girls’ and him at Nyandarua Boys’.
He said he spent a lot of money on Wangeci through the years yet she rejected him for being short, hugged another man in front of him and made a lot of money from him, knowing she did not intend to pursue their relationship further.
Mr Kinuthia told the court that he continued supporting Wangeci financially even when she turned cold towards him.
He said he had spent more than Sh100,000 on her and was in the process of reclaiming it from her parents after realising their love was not blooming.
Just before he killed her, he told justice Stephen Githinji, he had sent her Sh7,000 for a Sh14,000 birthday, but she did not invite him to the party. But he was not offended, he said, since he had been funding these parties during their relationship of many years.
“On the fateful day, I travelled to Eldoret to help with the facilitation of a colorful birthday that was scheduled for April 10, 2019,” he said, adding he felt hurt when Wangeci told him she loved someone else and ridiculed him for being short, saying he did not impress her.
“I was not happy when the deceased told me, through her close friend, that she did not love me because I was too short,” he said, adding he sought the help of a close friend of Wangeci’s in a bid to end the turmoil in their relationship.
Mr Kinuthia said he was also angered by Ivy’s act of hugging another man in his presence, and accused her of cheating on him.
He told the court he could not stand watching a man he considered his rival hugging his girlfriend in front of him.
“I could not stand that scenario. I lost control of myself and attacked her with my ax since I was out of my mind. I was completely out of myself [sic],” he said.
‘No intention to kill’
Mr Kinuthia said he was remorseful even as he accused Wangeci of “minting a lot of money" from him, knowing she was no longer interested in their romantic relationship.
He noted their differences could have been resolved and not ended up in a murder.
“I forever regret the death of Ivy. She was innocent. There are so many ways we could have resolved our differences,” he said, adding the ax was for defending himself, not killing her.
Responding to prosecution lawyer Jackson Ndegwa during cross-examination, Mr Kinuthia said he did not plan to kill Wangeci even though she had blocked him on phone.
“I had no intention of killing Ivy. I never stopped supporting her financially even after blocking me from reaching her on the phone. I was committed to making her life better,” he told the court.
Mr Kinuthia denied threatening Wangeci via WhatsApp.
On December 6, 2022, Justice Githinji ruled that Mr Kinuthia had a case to answer in Wangeci’s murder and directed his placement on defence.
The prosecution closed its case in June 2022, with the State presenting more than 10 witnesses in court.
Mr Kinuthia denied murder charges when he was arraigned at the High Court in Malindi three years ago. He was remanded to the Eldoret GK remand.
Detectives had told the court he confessed to hacking the student to death.