In what is turning to be an intriguing murder probe, police are now treating top city lawyer Assa Nyakundi’s wife and eldest son as “persons of interest” in their investigations into the “cover-up” that followed the March 17 killing of the family’s last-born son, Mr Joseph Bogonko, 29.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions have withdrawn the manslaughter charge against Mr Nyakundi, which was being heard in a Kiambu court, and are preparing to charge him with the murder of his son.
The inclusion of Mr Nyakundi’s wife, Ms Lydia Kunga Apunga, and his son, Mr Noah Onsomu, in the list of “persons of interest” adds another twist to the case and comes days after Mrs Nyakundi’s lawyer, Mr Danstan Omari, filed a case at the Constitutional Court seeking to stop the withdrawal of the manslaughter charges.
“It is true that the two will be interrogated as persons of interest in our inquiry into the cover-up,” Mr George Kinoti, the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) told the Nation.
Mr Nyakundi was freed last week after the withdrawal of the charge for a killing that has gripped the nation. The city lawyer told police that he accidentally shot his son after his gun malfunctioned, but police say that he intentionally shot him.
Mr Kinoti and DPP Noordin Haji believe that as part of the “cover-up” that followed, their officers charged Mr Nyakundi with the lesser count of manslaughter and deliberately omitted to file various investigation reports as part of the evidence.
Mr Kinoti and Mr Haji have ordered an inquiry and, already, senior detectives who handled and “tried to bungle the case”, according to Mr Kinoti, have been interdicted and the DCI says that once the investigations are complete, they could be charged with conspiracy to defeat the course of justice, which carries a five-year term upon conviction.
In her affidavit filed last Friday, Mrs Nyakundi asserted that her son’s shooting was an accident, and protested the revelation of her name and that of her son, who had been listed as witnesses in the case, terming it a contravention of Section 8 of the Victims Protection Act.
Reached for comment, Mr Kinoti asked Mr Nyakundi’s family to let the law take its course. “What are they afraid of?” he asked. “In any case, we are charging Mr Nyakundi with killing another person. It doesn’t matter whether they are related or not, and it is not for the family members to dictate to me what to put on the charge sheet.”
Mr Kinoti said that, with Mrs Nyakundi and her son now as among the “persons of interest”, he is no longer interested in them as prosecution witnesses.
“We shall be interrogating them on what they know about this massive cover-up, and if we find that they had a hand in it, they will also be charged with conspiracy to defeat justice. Take it from me.”
Sources say that the cover-up investigations have narrowed down to a city lawyer, a senior officer at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, an officer at the Judiciary, and some officers at the Government Chemist.
In her suit to stop Mr Nyakundi’s impending trial for murder, a capital offence, Mrs Nyakundi sought to have the prosecution maintain the manslaughter charge, which has no minimum sentenced prescribed in law. If found guilty of murder, Mr Nyakundi could be sentenced to death.
In her statement to the police, Mrs Nyakundi said her husband “can be temperamental”, but added that she had not “experienced an indiscipline case of my son that can warrant such a reaction from the father”.
“On the previous day, March 16, 2019, Joseph had driven my husband’s vehicle without permission and hit another motor vehicle from behind. We discussed this issue in the evening, the three of us, since the vehicle’s headlight had broken and had a dent. As far as I am concerned, we resolved this issue,” she said.
Police are now relying on ballistic evidence to indicate the position from which the gun was fired to determine whether Mr Nyakundi’s firearm went off accidentally, or was fired intentionally.
Detectives say that studying the “bullet flight path” inside the body and in Mr Nyakundi’s car will resolve the bullet trajectory and the possible position of the muzzle.
Investigators have used a laser trajectory finder kit to determine “the angle of incidence” and have said in their report that the gun muzzle was on the “left shoulder position of the driver’s seat.”
The report has also ruled out “close range shooting”, which is described as within 15 to 30 centimetres. In close range shooting, smoke, soot and burning of the skin is always observed at the bullet’s point of entry into the body.
“This case is based on scientific evidence. And Mr Nyakundi will have his day in court to explain what happened to his son,” said Mr Kinoti.
In his statement to the police, the city lawyer said that on their way home from church, as he tried to retrieve his pistol from the pocket at the back of the front passenger’s seat, it accidentally went off and killed his son, who was sitting at the back.
In his final report, Inspector John Wahome, who has been interdicted pending investigations, says after interviewing the necessary witnesses and analysing the evidence, he found that the lawyer was negligent in handling his firearm and charged him with manslaughter.
It is this charge that both the DPP and DCI have withdrawn, fearing that the investigation had been compromised.