Willie Kimani murder: Court finds 4 guilty, acquits Sgt Mwangi

Justice Lessit issues judgment on Willie Kimani murder case

The High Court has found three AP police officers, Sergeant Fredrick Ole Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku, and informer Peter Ngugi guilty of the murders of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and driver Joseph Muiruri.

The fourth accused person, Sergeant Leonard Mwangi has been acquitted of all the three counts of murder.

The trial judge, Jessie Lessit who concluded hearing the case on February 11, said it was the longest in her career as a judge as it lasted for six years and entailed 72 witnesses (of both the Prosecution and the Defence) and over 7,200 pages of hand written proceedings. Prosecutors tabled 117 pieces of exhibits during the trial to prove the murder charges pressed against the accused persons.

“The accused persons had a common intention. I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the prosecution has established that the accused persons were principal offenders and they acted in one common intention to commit the offences as charged,” said the judge.

While convicting the accused persons, the judge said that the evidence adduced by the prosecution locked the accused persons at the scene of murder in Mlolongo and the movement of dumping of the bodies in Athi River Kilimambogo.

Human Rights lawyer Mr Willie Kimani whose body and that of his client Josephat Mwenda, and driver Joseph Muiruri were found in Ol-Donyo Sabuk, Athi River.

The judged also observed that the defence evidence did not shake the prosecution evidence considering that one of the accused persons, Ngugi confessed and gave details of how the murder was planned and executed.

Justice Lessit noted that Leliman had a personal vendetta against Kimani's client Josephat Mwenda due to a case that had been filed at the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) against his conduct, which had put his job on the line.

“I find that Leliman had a reason to silence Mwenda because his job was on the line due to the case Mwenda lodged at IPOA,” she said referring to an investigation by the IPOA over the officer’s conduct.

“IPOA and Witness Protection Agency moved too slowly, and Mwenda who had reached out to them deserved to have been protected,” said the judge adding that the Prosecution had proved that Mr Leliman had motive in the murder of Mwenda.

Justice Lessit further found that prior to the murder incident, Mr Leliman had shot Mr Mwenda during a police stop in 2015. He was the chief architect of the murder and started planning the execution of the boda boda rider after the incident was reported to the IPOA.

Part of his revenge was institution of trumped up criminal charges, such as possession of bhang and a traffic offence, against Mr Mwenda.

willie kimani client Josephat Mwenda boda boda rider

Mr Josephat Mwenda, a boda boda rider who had accused a police officer of shooting him in the hand during an arrest bid. 

Photo credit: Pool

The Judge stated that the prosecution provided evidence to prove that a meeting between Mr Leliman and Mr Ngugi where at a bar in Machakos took place where he lamented that the IPOA complaint would get him sacked.

According to the judge, the lawyer and the taxi driver were collateral in the execution of Mwenda.

Even though Mr Mwangi who was also mentioned in the confession by Ngugi was released due to his strong defence.

"I find that the fourth accused Mwangi alibi has shaken the evidence of the prosecution," ruled the Judge.

Despite being acquitted Mwangi is still facing another murder case before Justice George Odunga in Machakos. He was charged alongside the three convicted officers in last month.

The court directed that the case be mentioned on September 23, 2022 to confirm filing of probation and victim assessment reports and for further directions on sentencing and mitigation of the four convicts.

The deceased persons were found dumped in Athi river on July 1, 2016 stashed in gunny bags.

They had gone missing a week earlier, on June 23, after been abducted outside Mavoko law courts by Sergeant Ole Leliman after mention of a traffic case leveled against Mr Mwenda by the police senior officer.