Jilted lover gets 40 years in jail for killing magistrate's daughter

Carol Kemei

Ms Carol Kemei (left) is consoled by a relative during her daughter’s requiem mass at the Meru Catholic Cathedral in September 2018. 

Photo credit: Fila | Nation Media Group

A former prison warder has been sent to jail for 40 years after being found guilty of murdering in cold blood his estranged lover’s nine-year-old daughter four years ago.    

The court said the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Benson Kimathi Marangu murdered Maribel Kapolon, the daughter of former Githongo senior resident magistrate Carol Kemei, in 2018.

The prosecution had lined up 22 witnesses, who helped in proving that Marangu committed the heinous crime between September 6, 2018 and September 16, 2018, at an unknown location in the country with others who were not presented before the court.

Senior Magistrate Carol Kemei pays tribute to her slain daughter Maribel Kapolong during a requiem mass at Meru Catholic Cathedral on September 20, 2018.

Photo credit: File

The girl was kidnapped on September 6, 2018 in Meru town while on her way home from Consolata Primary School and her body was found dumped in Gitoro Forest, Meru County, 11 days later.

Kapolon’s schoolmates said she had been picked up at the drop-off point by a man whom she referred to as “uncle”.

A postmortem showed the girl’s killers hit her on the head several times, inflicting serious injuries that resulted in her death.

Missing girl

The court found the second accused, Francis Otudo, guilty of trying to earn money by false pretences. Otudo had claimed that he was holding the missing girl and would kill her if he was not given Sh500,000.

In a ruling by Justice Robert Limo, which was read by Justice Lucy Gitari of the High Court in Chuka, the court found that Otudo did not participate in the murder of the girl but took advantage of the situation to extort money from the family after learning of the girl’s disappearance on social media.

Postmortem shows 9 year old, Maribel Kapolon, suffered multiple head fractures

Otudo was discharged on condition that he would not commit any crime for one year.

In his affidavit, Marangu denied committing the crime.

He further stated that he was a lover of the deceased’s mother, whom he came to know in 2012 while she was working as a magistrate in Maua, Meru County, while taking prisoners to court from Kangeta prison.

He said he later interacted with the magistrate in court when his former girlfriend sued him for allegedly neglecting a child, though the case was later taken over by another magistrate.

He added that, in 2013, he got into a romantic relationship with Ms Kemei, the mother of the deceased, which lasted until 2014, when she got transferred but declined to disclose to him her new workstation.

Marangu further stated that, in December 2016, while working as a tutor at a university campus in Maua town after quitting the prison warder’s job on April 4, 2016, Ms Kemei sent a message informing him that she had been moved to another court but within Meru County.

He added that, in 2017, their romantic relationship resumed and that that is when he came to know the magistrate’s two children.


Benson Kimathi Marangu (right), the main suspect in the murder of nine-year-old Maribel Kapolon, consults his lawyer Elias Mutuma at the High Court in Chuka on November 2, 2018. On the left is the second accused, Francis Otudo.

Photo credit: File

He told the court that he would often pick up the magistrate and her children for a day out and sometimes pick up the child after she was dropped off by the school bus in the evening.

The court heard that on August 10, 2018, Marangu drove Ms Kemei in his vehicle to Kapsabet for the burial of one of her father's friends.

Volley of insults

While there, he added, Ms Kemei introduced him as a friend, which did not go down well with him.

He further told the court that while in Kapsabet, the magistrate spent the nights at her brother’s place.

After returning to Meru, Marangu went to Ms Kemei house and found a teacher whom he identified as Joshua.

He later called the magistrate demanding an explanation on the identity of the man he had found in her house, but she retorted that she was under no obligation to explain to him who the visitor was.

Dissatisfied with the reply, Marangu insisted they meet that week and talk, but Ms Kemei said she would not be available on the date suggested.

Marangu told the court that he suggested another day, but Ms Kemei did not show up.

An angry Marangu then fired off a volley of insults at her, saying “women are devils” and that he no longer wanted anything to do with them.

Efforts by Ms Kemei to cool him down failed and communication between them stopped for a week until Ms Kemei inquired about a driving licence she had left in his vehicle during the trip to Kapsabet.

Marangu, however, said the document was not in his vehicle and communication between the two stopped once again.

Wild animals

Marangu admitted writing a text message to the magistrate on August 27, 2018, stating that he was done with women and that he was now married.

The second accused confessed that he took advantage of the disappearance of Ms Kemei’s daughter situation to extort money from the magistrate.

Otudo said he met Marangu while in remand – two days after his arrest – but he knew Meru town since he schooled there in 2009 under some sponsorship.

Defence lawyer Elias Mutuma pleaded with the court to consider that the two were first-time offenders and have mercy on them while pronouncing the judgment.

The judge, however, said the mitigation plea notwithstanding, the young girl did not have to die so brutally.

“She was an innocent child full of love who even embraced a man who would later turn a monster and end her life and give her body to wild animals for food,” said Justice Limo.

“It was evil and beastly to sacrifice an innocent child at the altar of a failed love affair,” he added.

The judge added that he had no suitable words to condemn such a heinous act but only through a severe sentence.

“The first accused is sentenced to 40 years imprisonment and has 14 days to appeal if he so wishes,” said the judge.