By Eric Winston/Guest Writer
A Kenyan businesswoman based in the US who shot her husband dead has been found guilty of murder.
Sheila Wanjiku Kibinge who murdered Leonard Kibinge Kiruri on April 15 2014 at Gitaru Village in Kikuyu on the outskirts of Nairobi city was found guilty of pre-meditated murder by Justice Jessie Lesiit.
Though there was no direct evidence linking her to the murder, as the weapon used in the crime was never recovered, circumstantial evidence and inconsistencies in Wanjiku’s account of events were her undoing, as the judge found it insufficient to prove her innocence, the court ruled.
“The murder weapon was not recovered and produced in court….failure to do so was however not fatal to the prosecution’s case as the police were not at the scene during the incident and the accused had time to dispose of the weapon,” the judge said.
Wanjiku had claimed that she and her husband had been kidnapped on that fateful night and it was the kidnappers who killed her hubby.
Wanjiku had testified that she walked away when she heard a blast and then their car crashed into a fence. She did not check on her husband who was the one driving the car before it crashed, a thing the judge faulted for curiosity’s sake.
It was found interesting that Wanjiku , after the bloody incident, however, bypassed Kikuyu police station, a stone throw distance from the purported crime scene and which was the nearest and instead opted to report the ‘kidnapping’ at Central Police Station in Nairobi.
“The accused by-passed Kikuyu Police Station and other nearer stations to go report the alleged kidnapping incident at Central Police Station… this was just an attempt at buying time so as to delay the process of investigations that she knew would follow,” Justice Lesiit said.
Witness testimonies also show that Wanjiku had had several change of clothes from the time of the incident to the time of reporting to Central Police Station.
Calm and collected
Witnesses told the court that Sheila Wanjiku had appeared calm and collected after the incident and that she did not seem to have been shaken by it.
Sheila Wanjiku claimed that she had come to Kenya to process Visa for her husband so that they could relocate to the US.
Wanjiku had told the court that she had come to Kenya through Uganda but the court established that there was no point of entry stamp on her passport as required by law.
She had also claimed to have traveled from Uganda to Kenya using Mash bus. She however did not produce bus ticket to back up that claim.
Passenger manifests from Mash bus company indicated no passenger bearing her name had traveled on the bus during that period.
“The other circumstance relied upon was the fact that prosecution witness 3 (PW3) account of the event all pointed to the accused as the culprit.”
Shaken and disturbed
According to pw3, a taxi driver who drove her from Kikuyu to Central Police Station in the CBD after the incident, the accused appeared shaken and disturbed and under the buibui she was wearing heard a clicking sound which terrified him so much that after dropping the accused at Central Police Station, he proceeded straight to Kikuyu Police Station where he reported carrying a suspicious person who may have had a bomb.
“The accused explained that the clicking sound heard was the buckle of her belt as she counted coins to pay him,” the judge said.
Coins to pay
About the payment, pw3 said the accused paid Ksh800 up front as deposit and the balance of Ksh500 after reaching her destination, justice Lesiit said.
The judge said, Sheila herself said she paid only Ksh800 and no more… If that be true, then she did not need to make clicking sounds with her buckle as she looked for coins to pay pw3.
Indifference to the deceased
The other circumstance which presented itself in the trial, the judge said, is the fact that the accused walked away from her husband in their vehicle (after purportedly being shot by gangsters), walked on foot towards Kikuyu Police Station but changed direction to Central Police Station.
“She claims to have heard a single blast which woke her up and that her immediate thought was to walk away,” justice Lesiit said.
The judge said she found it difficult to believe that Sheila could walk away before finding out whether her husband was okay.
“The accused admitted she heard a blast, after which the vehicle veered off the road… That that is the reason why she should have checked on the deceased to find out why he crashed into a fence. There is no way she could have missed to see the bullet hole on his head and the other two wounds on the neck and chest,” the judge said.
Justice Lesiit further said Sheila’s explanation that she was sleeping when the vehicle veered off the road does not explain her indifference to the deceased.
“I also considered the evidence of PW1 and 9 who lived near the fence the deceased crashed into,” the judge said, adding that the witnesses said they heard three loud blasts, “and there is no way the accused can feign ignorance that three gunshots were fired since she was seated right next to her husband at the time.”
The judge also said she considered the evidence of the prosecution witness who was the first to see Sheila after she left the vehicle who said she was calm and collected.
“That is someone who was not affected by what had just happened… I find that the accused conduct after the shooting incident was the conduct of someone with a guilty mind,” the judge said.
Her defense requested for time to mitigate.
Her bond has been canceled by the court and she is to remain in custody till she is sentenced-a mandatory life imprisonment or the death penalty which she may appeal.