A woman who mysteriously disappeared from a Kisumu court after being convicted for the murder of her husband has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
High Court Judge David Majanja on Thursday sentenced Martha Auma Nyagol, a P1 trained teacher from Kabondo, Homa Bay County, after finding her guilty of strangling her husband Jared Ochieng’ on May 27, 2014.
The incident took place between May 26 and 27 at Kanyakwar in Kisumu East constituency.
In his post-sentence report, Majanja noted the accused has a child who is three years old, is the sole breadwinner for her daughter and her family expressed the view that the accused deserved a non-custodial sentence.
He, however, stated that the offence of murder carries the maximum penalty of death; considering the serious nature of the offence, the plea for mercy and the accuser’s circumstances, he decided a custodial sentence warranted.
“I, therefore, sentence the accused to 30 years imprisonment,” stated Majanja.
During the hearing of the case, the accused had stated in her sworn affidavit that on that material night, her husband arrived home around 9.00 pm and asked her to prepare a bath for him.
As she prepared the bath, the deceased went out to receive a call from his brother, after the call, he went to the bathroom and while he was bathing, the accused saw three masked men enter the house.
One of them held a gun, went to where she was and ordered her to keep mum, took their phones which were on the stool in the bedroom and switched them off.
He took the accused’s white belt which hung on the wall as two others dragged the deceased from the bathroom to the corridor.
She stated that the men placed the white belt around the deceased’s neck and ordered her at gunpoint to pull the belt until the deceased was lifeless.
In the case, PW1 and PW4 testified that the deceased had been having matrimonial problems with the accused which would have led to her to murder the deceased.
Nyagol had pleaded innocence claiming that she was coerced into strangling the husband at gunpoint by assailants who had broken into their house.
But in the judgment, Justice Majanja rejected this claim, saying she may have indeed had the assistance of the assailants.
“On my own evaluation of the evidence, I find and hold the accused was alone in the house on the material night when on her own admission, she strangled the deceased, I reject her defense that she was under compulsion when she strangled the deceased and may have indeed had assistance of the three assailants she referred to”.
He further stated that the act of strangling a person is cold, calculated and deliberate. It’s intended to cause death and accordingly constitutes malice.
“I, therefore, find the accused guilty of the murder of Jared Ochieng Otieno,” he stated.
Immediately after being found guilty on March 21, the accused who was to remain in custody until her sentencing date on April 11, she mysteriously disappeared from the court.
This was realised after Justice Majanja noticed she was nowhere in the courtroom forcing him to adjourn for what he termed as a security breach.
The next day, Nyagol presented herself before the court with her advocate Steve Odumbe who defended her saying she was apologetic for what had transpired adding that her action was not intentional hence why she returned to court.
Odumbe said her client thought she was to come back on the stated date by the Judge since she has always been out on bond.
“My client has never during the case absconded hearing, hence what happened wasn’t intentional, she regrets what transpired, “he said.
Her elder Sister Lilian Ajuang told the Correspondent outside the court that every time they attend court for the hearing, they are always given a date to come back, so they thought that this was also the same.
Ajuang said her sister only came to realize what had happened when their lawyer called her asking why she left the court yet she ought not to have done so.
“My sister’s phone was off but when she charged and switch it on around 5pm that’s when she got the message and so we came back today,” she said.