Man who threatened to 'break' granny found guilty of her murder

Woman's neighbours, who were in Standard 8, say they saw him enter her house

In Summary

• Then Standard 8 pupils say they heard a strained cry after he entered her house.

• They say he threatened to 'break her'. 

The Judiciary.
The Judiciary.

A man who killed an 80-year-old woman in Eldoret in 2014 has been found guilty by the High Court.

Kenneth Kipkemboi murdered Tapilei Kibet by hitting her head with a jembe on January 17, 2014, in her house at Chemurgoi in Elgeyo Marakwet county.

According to the prosecution, three boys who were then in Standard 8, while studying at 10pm, heard their neighbour talking to herself.

The boys last week on Monday told the court that the woman was an alcoholic and many times in her drunken state, she would talk to herself for a while into the night. 

They testified that the woman lived 20 metres away from their room. They said they heard footsteps on the road just outside their room. 

When he heard the old woman talking to herself, Kipkemboi asked her what she was doing at that time of the night. The woman responded that she was relaxing at her home, the court heard. 

“You know I can come in there and break you into pieces,” the accused is quoted as having said.  

The witnesses said the woman responded saying she was not scared, daring Kipkemboi to go into her home.

There was moonlight, so the three stood on the bed and peeped through ventilation in their room, one of the boys told the court. 

They watched as the accused walked for a distance, then returned after 10 minutes and entered the old woman's house.  According to the witnesses, he was carrying a jembe handle. Shortly, they heard the woman shout out her son Michael’s name, the court head, her voice sounding strange, like that of someone in distress.

The court heard that the boys saw everything as the woman's door faced them. Kipkemboi is then said to have walked out of the deceased's house after about 15 minutes and left. 

The accused is said to have met a certain Mama Muturi and asked her how she was fairing before walking away. 

 “However, he returned after 10 minutes carrying the stick but now his dog was following him. He walked past but returned after about 10 minutes and entered the deceased’s house, staying for about 5 minutes," the court heard. 

"He then walked out, made as though to lock the door, then went away. The next day, we learnt the old woman had died." 

They recalled the events of the previous night, believing it was the accused who had killed their neighbour.

They explained that they did not intervene as they feared the accused who is reputed to be wild and had a jembe stick.  They decided to inform the deceased’s son what they had witnessed.

Michael Kibet, the deceased’s son, confirmed that he went to his mother’s house and found her lying dead on the floor in the morning.  He did not observe any injuries on her, but when postmortem results showed that the woman appeared to have been hit on the side of the head and neck.

It showed the cause of death as assault with subdural and epidural haematoma, liver disease and lung fracture.

In his unsworn defence, the accused stated that on the date in question, he left for his home at about 8.30pm using a certain path leading from his father’s homestead. He confirmed meeting and talking to PW4 and PW5 and along the way, before getting to his home. The next day he learnt that the deceased had been found dead inside her house. He went to the scene where he found a crowd.

After the deceased’s burial, he met some people on the way who attacked him saying he was responsible for the death. He fled to his home before he was eventually arrested, the affidavit says. 

Justice Hellen Omondi said although the postmortem report refers to liver and lung disease, there is also a finding of a bulge in the head with both epidural and subdural haematoma. 

“The accused had a jembe stick – he got into the house after threatening to break the deceased.  The three boys heard a strained cry then silence, saw the accused walk out of the house, and the next day she was dead," She said.

"There is nothing, to suggest that anyone else got into the house after the accused had left that night and the circumstances point inculpably to the accused, and to the exclusion of any other reasonable hypothesis. I am satisfied the evidence proves the charge against the accused and his defence is rejected as being evasive."

(Edited by R.Wamochie)