The saga surrounding the mysterious death of Dorothy Ong’era, a US-based Kenyan mother of six children, continues to deepen in Texas, after lawyers for Obadiah Kinara, the man who lived with her, withdrew their legal services.
Ms Ong’era’s lifeless body was found in a bathtub last December.
The exhumation hearing, which was scheduled to commence later today (Midwestern US Time) was thrown into disarray following the attorneys’ withdrawal, which means the court will first sit to hear the lawyers first before the substantive matter is heard.
A superior court in Texas recently ordered a lower court to go ahead and conduct a hearing to determine the next steps on the exhumation and handling of Ms Ong’era’s remains after dismissing an appeal by Mr Kinara, who has strongly resisted the exhumation for an independent post-mortem.
Mr Kinara’s attorneys from Ali Croker’s law firm, successfully applied in Tarrant County Probate Court for withdrawal of services, citing ethical reasons.
However, Mr Kinara unsuccessfully opposed the application after the court granted the law firm the right to withdraw. The court said the law firm had provided compelling reasons to support their withdrawal application.
“Pursuant to Rule 10 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Ali Crocker files this motion for withdrawal of attorney as attorney in charge for Obadiah Kinara, defendant,” stated the motion, which was filed in the lower court where the hearing is scheduled to commence later today (Sunday) US time.
“Ali Crocker, attorney in charge for Obadiah Kinara, defendant, petitions this court to withdraw as the attorney for Obadiah Kinara, and in support of this motion, Ali Crocker shows the Court Obadiah Kinara neither consents to nor agrees to the withdrawal of Ali Crocker in this matter.”
The attorneys stated that there is good cause for Ali Crocker law firm to withdraw as counsel.
“Continued representation by counsel is not possible because of the conflict of interest per the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct,” they noted.
Granting the application, the court observed, “After reviewing the motion for withdrawal of attorney filed by Ali Crocker on September 21, 2021, the court orders that the motion is granted. The court finds that the motion is not made for delay and that there is good cause to allow Ali Crocker Russell to withdraw as attorney for Obadiah Kinara.”
These developments present a setback, yet again, to the exhumation of Ms Ong’era’s body, whose cause of death and secret burial remain mysterious.
Mr Ong’era moved to court seeking to have his daughter’s body subjected to independent post-mortem after disputing initial findings which attributed the cause of death to drowning in a bathtub.
After disagreeing with the first responders’ findings as to the actual cause of his daughter’s death, Mr Ong’era moved to court and was granted conservatory orders restraining the burial until the court determined his application for independent post-mortem.
Ignored court orders
However, despite being served, Mr Kinara apparently ignored the court orders and went ahead to conduct a secret burial without the knowledge of Ms Ong’era’s parents who reside in the same Tarrant County where she was found dead.
The probate court was outraged by these developments, with the presiding judge, Brooke Allen, wondering during the hearing how Mr Kinara could have conducted a secret burial in the midst of a pending lawsuit touching on the matter.
Mr Ong’era has insisted that he has never accused Mr Kinara of being implicated in the death of his daughter. However, he contends that the only way everyone would know what killed his daughter is through an independent post-mortem.
“All I want to know is what caused my daughter’s death. I am not interested in anything [else]. I am not after any benefits. However, all I want is to know how my daughter could drown in a shallow bathtub and what caused the blood that was oozing from her lifeless body,” said Mr Ong’era during the initial hearing.
The probate court ruled in favour of Mr Ong’era’s application.
Mr Kinara objected to the court’s ruling that an independent post-mortem be conducted on the body to establish the cause of death.
Mr Kinara moved to the superior court and accused the lower court’s magistrate of allegedly abusing her discretionary powers. But Mr Ong’era countered the appeal in a 30-page filing defending the court’s judgment.
The superior court ruled against Mr Kinara, directing the lower court to go ahead and facilitate the exhumation.
The ruling apparently did not sit well with Mr Kinara, who is currently facing serious criminal charges of child abuse and endangerment of his children.
As the Ong’era family anticipated the commencement of the procedural hearing to set the exhumation terms, Mr Kinara’s attorneys filed for withdrawal of services. What this means is that the procedural hearing will not take place until Mr Kinara appoints new attorneys to represent him during the hearing.
Kenyans in the US have been rattled by Mr Kinara’s objection to the court-ordered post-mortem, which they believe will absolve anyone from the mysterious death of Ms Ong’era.
Some Kenyans in the diaspora believe that an independent post-mortem is the best way to establish how she died in a house where she lived with Mr Kinara.