Willie Kimani murder case: Officer Fredrick Leliman sentenced to death

High Court Judge Jessie Lesit has sentenced officer Fredrick Leliman, the first accused in the murders of lawyer Willie Kimani and two others to death.

This brings an end to the trial that has taken more than six years in the corridors of justice.

The other co-accused, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku, and police informer Peter Ngugi, were found guilty of three counts of murder and sentenced to 30 years, 24 years, and 20 years in prison, respectively.

These sentences will run concurrently.

The trial, which involved 46 witnesses and 117 exhibits, painted a picture of the gruesome murders of lawyer Willie Kimani, Josphat Mwendwa, and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri.

The three were found dead in the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River in June 2016, with injuries on their heads and strangled bodies, according to a post-mortem report by chief government pathologist Dr Johansen Oduor.

“The evidence is overwhelming that the first accused (Fredrick Leliman) personally attended to ensure that the deceased persons were captured, detained to await nightfall, murdered and their bodies dumped or flung into the river to make it difficult to recover them,” stated Justice Lesiit.

The judge also mentioned that the prosecution presented watertight evidence against the four accused, with Leliman as the key player in the murder plot.

The story of the murders begins on April 10, 2015, when Leliman stopped Josephat Mwenda and accidentally shot him in the hand.

Mwenda submitted a complaint against Leliman, which was being investigated on behalf of the International Justice Mission, an international non-governmental organization.

Mwenda was abducted from his home at night on December 14, 2015, by Leliman and other police officers, and he was charged with six further charges of traffic infractions.

Kimani, Mwenda, and their taxi driver were taken on June 23, 2016, after leaving court for a hearing on traffic violations. The three were finally slain after being kept in a police container at the station without being booked.

According to Justice Lesiit, Leliman devised the plan to kill Mwenda and that Kimani and Muiruri were not his targets but were slain anyhow.

“The murder was meant to interfere with the course of justice. They went through fear, torture, and excruciating pain as they waited for their turn to be killed,” the judge stated.

The other accused had presented numerous exhibits and 15 witnesses to prove their innocence.

However, according to Justice Lesiit, the prosecution offered impenetrable evidence linking the four accused, with Leliman as the major role in the murder plot.

“I have carefully considered the entire evidence adduced in this case by both sides and as well as the submission by both counsels. Having done so, I find that the circumstantial evidence established against the first, second, third, and fifth accused persons justifies the guilt of the accused beyond any other reasonable hypothesis besides that of guilt,” Justice Lesiit concluded.


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