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Murder suspect freed as witnesses refuse to testify

Thursday January 10 2019

Judge Teresia Matheka

Nyeri High Court Judge Teresiah Matheka who freed a 23-year-old man charged with the murder of his cousin the after family members and State officers refused to testify against him. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDAI GROUP 

JOSEPH WANGUI
By JOSEPH WANGUI
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The High Court in Nyeri has freed a 23-year-old man charged with the murder of his cousin the after family members and State officers refused to testify against him.

Justice Teresia Matheka freed Danson Ngaruka Muturi who had been in remand for three years awaiting trial.

The judge said that according to the records in the file, the prosecution did not produce a single witness to testify against the accused person.

The hearing of case was adjourned for more than ten times due to the challenges experienced by the prosecution.

RECANTED STATEMENTS

State prosecutors told the court several times that the witnesses, who were relatives of the suspect, and would not testify as they had recanted their statements.

The court also heard that the witnesses refused to receive summons.

In some instances, the State said, the relatives were served with the summons, appeared in court but disappeared before they could testify.

The charge stated that on the night of January 17, 2015, Mr Muturi murdered David Ndonga Ngaruka at Gathanji village, Kiaguthu Sub-Location in Nyeri County. He denied the charges. A psychiatric examination showed he was fit to stand trial.

SUMMONS

Justice Matheka noted that warrants of arrest against the witnesses were sought but they were not granted because there was no evidence of service on summons to attend proceedings.

Although Section 92 of the Criminal Procedure Code does not require it, Justice Matheka said, it would be neither fair nor just for the court to proceed to issue a punitive order in the form of a warrant of arrest for a witness.

“Not a single affidavit of service was produced by anyone to show that the witnesses had indeed been served (with summons) to enable the court to take any further action. The prosecution in a demonstration of utter helplessness, then closed its case,” noted the court.

She noted that since there was no evidence to consider, she could only make a finding of not guilty.

SAFETY FEARS

Mr Muturi has been in remand after a pre-bail report raised fears about his safety.

On June 29, 2016, State Counsel, one Ms Chebet, told the then trial Judge Jairus Ngaah that the investigating officer had informed her that exhibits from the Government Chemist were not ready and asked for adjournment.

In response, the judge said, “The practice of exhibits taking long at the Government Chemist has become rampant and a serious hindrance to speedy disposal of cases.”

Ms Chebet later said the suspect’s father had appeared in court to testify but he seemed to change his story. The court heard that he was denying his statement.

Mr Muturi was freed after his lawyer, a Mr Kiminda opposed the numerous adjournments. He also said that he was suffering in remand.