Donning a short-sleeved light blue checked shirt, city lawyer Assa Nyakundi walked into the courtroom from the cells at Kiambu Law Courts, not as an officer of the court, but as a manslaughter suspect.
The lawyer, who for the last six weeks has been in hospital due to high blood pressure, looked frail, confused, out of place.
Throughout the session, the lawyer, who is accused of shooting dead his son Joseph Bogonko Nyakundi on March 17, appeared lost, deep in thought and perhaps wondering how he will grapple, not only with the charges of murder but also the resentment from his own family.
That the lawyer has willingly opted to move out of his residence in Muthaiga North Estate to rent an apartment in Kilimani, in Nairobi, and his wife and son having agreed to testify against him, only confirms how the incident has broken the family apart.
Mr Nyakundi was on Friday arraigned before Kiambu Principal Magistrate Terresia Nyangena, where he denied charges of manslaughter.
His wife Lydia and eldest son Noah have been listed among key witnesses in the case.
Joseph was buried in a low-key ceremony at Lang’ata Cemetery in Nairobi three weeks ago. His father did not attend the burial.
Mr Nyakundi said during an interview last week that he accidentally shot his son as they drove home from church.
Noah, who was last seen crying uncontrollably at his brother’s graveside in Lang’ata, and who is among the key witnesses the State intends to use to nail the lawyer, never visited his father in hospital.
Under Abagusii customs, Joseph, an unmarried adult male, should have been buried at his father’s farm in Ngoso village, Kitutu Chache, Kisii County, but, family sources said, Noah opposed the idea.
Mr Nyakundi told the court the shooting of his son was a “catastrophic event”, adding that the circumstances under which his son died had driven a wedge in his family.
“The church people and counsellors are trying to talk to us (him and his family) so that we don’t lose the family. I really do not want to lose my family, and already I can say the efforts are bearing fruit because my wife came to see me in the hospital and my children are responding positively,” a subdued Mr Nyakundi told the court in an address that lasted less that one minute.
The issue of the effects of the incident arose after the prosecution, through State Counsel Stella Oyagi, requested that he be given strict bail terms, because some of the witnesses are his family members.
That prompted the magistrate to ask the defence how the accused intends to continue staying with them.
Mr Nyakundi, through his advocates, led by Cliff Ombeta, responded that he had made arrangements to move out of his home.
Mr Ombeta told the court that the lawyer will stay at Aden Valley Apartments until the matter is determined.
He successfully asked the court that he be escorted to his residence by the police to collect his personal effects.
Ms Nyangena ordered the lawyer not to “touch anything belonging to his wife and children”, and that he should never go near them pending the hearing and determination of the case.
The court freed him on a Sh1 million bond with a surety of the same amount or an alternative cash bail of Sh300,000. The hearing starts on June 20.