The controversy surrounding the mysterious death of a Kenyan woman in Texas, USA almost ten months ago has taken a new turn after a superior court dismissed an application by her husband to block her parents from exhuming and conducting a post-mortem on the body.
Mr Obadiah Kinara, who was accused of secretly burying his wife, Dorothy Ong’era, without involving his parents-in-law, had moved to the court of appeal in Texas, seeking to quash the decision of a lower court which ordered his wife's body be exhumed for a post-mortem to establish the actual cause of her death. She died in December 2020.
Through his advocate, Ms Kursten King, Mr Kinara sought to set aside the lower court’s orders authorising his father-in-law, Mr David Ong’era, to exhume the remains of his daughter for a post-mortem.
Mr Kinara accused the lower court of abusing its powers by allowing his father-in-law to conduct the post-mortem on his wife, claiming that he (Ong’era) had no legal authority to demand for a post-mortem without his (Kinara’s) consent.
Contesting Mr Kinara's appeal, Mr Ong'era, through his advocate, Amy Lorez, stated that as Dorothy's father, he had every right to know what caused his daughter's death at her home in Arlington, Texas where she lived with Kinara.
In his counter application against Mr Kinara’s appeal, Mr Ong'era disputed his son-in-law's marriage to his daughter, stating that she was legally married in Kenya to Denis Mose under the Gusii customary laws.
However, Mr Kinara presented an apparently controversial divorce decree allegedly issued by a court in Kisii, purportedly dissolving the marriage between Ms Ong'era and Mr Mose.
Mr Mose is listed as an interested party in the matter. He was, however, unrepresented in the High Court litigation.
Mr Ong'era's lawyer contested the purported divorce order, dismissing it as a forgery. Investigations show that the case number on the alleged court order belongs to different parties in an ongoing litigation in Kisii.
Mr Ong'era stated that Mr Kinara's appeal to the higher court to block the exhumation of his daughter was frivolous because he had not raised any triable matters of law that needed the intervention of the superior court.
In a 32-page response to Mr Kinara’s appeal, Mr Ong’era defended the lower court’s decision stating that the judge in the probate court who issued the orders did not abuse her discretionary powers and that Mr Kinara was out to derail the course of justice.
Ms Ong'era’s mysterious death has been dogged with controversy after Mr Kinara secretly buried her body without involving her parents who are also domiciled in the same county of Tarrant she resided with Mr Kinara.
Dismissing the appeal, the Second Court of Appeals Judges, Birdwell, Bassel and Wallach, said Mr Kinara had not raised any credible issues to warrant their intervention on the ruling made by the lower court judge, Brooke Allen, in March 2021, which ordered the exhumation of Ms Ong'era’s body for a post-mortem as requested by her father.
The ruling grants Mr Ong’era the right to have his daughter’s body exhumed and a post-mortem conducted by an independent pathologist to establish the cause of her death.
The superior court directed the lower court to hear and determine who had the right to take possession of the body. The hearing will happen on September 27, 2021.
The lower court will determine the date the body will be exhumed for a post-mortem and a decent burial done as per the wishes of Ms Ong'era’s parents.
Kenyans in the US hailed the superior court's ruling as the right decision, observing that Mr Kinara's opposition to independent post-mortem to establish how Ms Ong'era met her death had raised very serious questions about his credibility of innocence.
Meanwhile, Mr Kinara is facing criminal charges of child abuse and endangerment in the same Tarrant County of Texas.
His six children have been taken away from him for their safety after the Children's Protection Service established that they were not safe living with him.
Speaking from Texas, Mr Ong'era said he had been granted the safe custody of the children and refused to make any further comments on the issue, saying it was a matter pending in court.
He said he was very happy with the superior court’s ruling, stating that all he wants is to know what caused the mysterious death of his daughter. He also wants to accord his daughter what he described as a decent burial in the US.