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Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru was murdered, pathologist tells court

Tuesday February 10 2015

A 2011 photo of Samuel Wanjiru's mother Hannah Wanjiru at the balcony which her son is said to have fallen from. Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru was murdered at his Nyahururu home, an inquest into the circumstances surrounding his death was told on Tuesday. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A 2011 photo of Samuel Wanjiru's mother Hannah Wanjiru at the balcony which her son is said to have fallen from. Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru was murdered at his Nyahururu home, an inquest into the circumstances surrounding his death was told on Tuesday. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP NATION MEDIA GROUP

VINCENT AGOYA
By VINCENT AGOYA
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Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru was murdered at his Nyahururu home, a court inquest was told on Tuesday.

The assailant attacked him with a blunt metal object that shattered the back of his skull outside the house, a former chief government pathologist, Mr Moses Njue, told the inquest into the death of the athlete.

The attack happened shortly after Mr Wanjiru jumped or after being pushed off the balcony, and may have died on impact from the blunt object, the pathologist said.

The doctor ruled out a “possible suicide theory” the police advanced after the 2011 incident and stated that four of his colleagues and Mr Wanjiru’s relatives had raised eyebrows when the nature of injuries found on the former athlete’s body failed to corroborate a “clinical resume” presented earlier as the cause of his death.

Dr Njue told Nairobi Chief Magistrate Hannah Ndung’u that he led a team of forensic pathologists to the athlete’s home after “serious doubts and discrepancies arose” and discounted a theory that the former world champion died from a fall.

The doctor said the “height from which Mr Wanjiru fell was not enough, scientifically, to generate the momentum to kill him.”

“The story advanced earlier was not believable...the injuries on his head were massive and it was what caused his death, it was independently inflicted,” Dr Njue told the inquest.

INDEPENDENT INJURY

He said the earlier report that Mr Wanjiru jumped out of his balcony, was picked while still alive and taken to hospital where he died within an hour was doubtful.

This is because a team of pathologists found a “massive” blunt object trauma at the back of his head which had cracked his skull and spilled his brains into spinal column.

“He had bruises consistent with a fall which we found on his knees and hands but the impact of a rebound fall backwards would not be enough to cause the extent of injuries we observed on his skull.

The deceased actually landed on his four limbs, cat-style, and the fatal head injury was inflicted independently” the doctor explained.

He said that an initial examination of the corpse had revealed “ a patterned abrasion on the left cheek with three visible parallel lines.”

“The deceased also had an abrasion below the left eye but what drew our attention was the swelling at the back of his head,” Dr Njue said.

He said there was a fracture on Mr Wanjiru’s skull extending from the base, splitting into two and extending to his backbone. “It was longer on the left more than the right,” he said.

The doctor said the impact of the blunt strike against the skull would have caused instantaneous immobility meaning Mr Wanjiru’s assailants accosted him outside immediately after he fell or jumped from the balcony.

“The cause of death can be said to be a massive blunt object force injury to the back of the head with resultant skull fracture, attendant haemorrhage...there was also significantly raised intracranial pressure and brain contusion,” the doctor said.

MAXIMUM HEIGHT

He said that based on his post-mortem examination it can be inferred that “ the maximum height associated with deaths even in intoxication is 30 feet or more and generally when it is three times that of an individual.”

“In Wanjiru's case it had to be at least 16 feet,” Dr Njue said, adding that he may have come down while holding onto the metal grills on the balcony but could not have touched the ground on his four limbs and then jump backwards.

“He was a soldier and an astute athlete and very agile...he actually landed on his four limbs cat-style and the fatal head injury was inflicted independently,” he said.
The hearing continues.