For seven years Caroline Wanjiru Maina endured an abusive marriage. Her husband, Mr Evans Karari Mwangi, often beat her up and threatened to kill her.
But she braved it all, hoping that he would one day change for the better.
The couple operated a pub – Kaska Inn – on Kenyatta Road, Juja.
But on the night of January 23, 2016, on their way home in Kenyatta Road Estate after closing the pub, tragedy struck.
Mwangi would turn up in his neighbour’s house at 3.30am in a T-shirt soaked with blood. He called out Fredrick Kamira Mugendi through the window claiming that they had been attacked by thugs.
He was injured on his ribs but the injury was not serious. He told Mugendi that following the attack, Carol had run away.
Mugendi woke up his two neighbours and they went to the couple’s residence to check whether Carol had arrived.
She wasn’t there. The witness recalled Mwangi was hysterically calling out “babe babe”.
The neighbour later offered him food, water and a place to sleep.
Six days later police visited Mugendi’s home. During a search, they found a knife on a slab at the front of the house.
The case investigating officer, Chief Inspector Police Jacinta Kalundu, said the knife which appeared to have blood stains was taken to government chemist.
The DNA profile generated from the blood stains matched the DNA profile of Carol’s blood sample.
It is this incriminating evidence, coupled with the neighbour’s testimony that linked Mwangi to his wife’s murder.
And he did not explain his whereabouts from 11pm to 3.30am when he showed up at the house of Mugendi.
It would emerge on their way home on the fateful night, Mwangi drew a knife and stabbed her severally on the chest.
To conceal the murder weapon, he threw the blood-stained knife on the roof of his neighbour’s house.
Mwangi has since been convicted for murder by the High Court in Kiambu and is awaiting sentencing.
He was described by some prosecution witnesses as a boyfriend of the deceased and by others as her husband. All witnesses however confirmed the accused and Carol lived together for about seven years.
Lucy Wanjiku, mother to the deceased, and Esther Njeri, her younger sister, said the accused used to assault Carol “savagely”.
Lucy described their relationship at the beginning as being good but later it deteriorated.
The mother said Carol would call at 2am to report that Mwangi wanted to kill her.
“I would often take a boda boda to go rescue her. She called me to go rescue her at least five times. Once I had to move her from where she was living to come living (sic) with me because of how she had been beaten… within two months Karis (accused) came back to live with her. But they fought again,” she testified.
One day Mwangi broke Carol’s teeth and also damaged the house until they were evicted.
On that day Mwangi also attacked his mother-in-law. “The landlord had a gun and it’s what saved us,” testified Carol’s mother.
Post-mortem examination report showed Carol did not defend herself as she was stabbed.
Justice Mary Kasango concluded that lack of defensive marks on Carol’s hands meant she was unaware of the imminent attack from her lover or that she was attacked by someone she knew from whom she least expected such an attack.
“The doctor who carried out the post-mortem examination noted that the deceased did not have defensive marks. That finding is contrary to the defence offered by the accused that they were attacked by thugs,” said the judge.
The judge said Mwangi had malice aforethought because there was no evidence that the couple reached their residence.
The evidence showed the accused was armed with a knife as the couple went home.
“It is clear to this court that the accused who, prior to their walking home was armed with a knife, had malice aforethought. He intended to cause grievous harm and even death to the deceased,” said justice Kasango.
On the fateful night, the two had argued over a customer who had walked into the bar shortly before closing time.
It would seem from the evidence of the lady bar-tender, Lydia Nabwire, that the accused was displeased when Carol countermanded his instruction to the bar tender not to serve the late customer.
“Carol and Karis started arguing with each other about this issue. They used to argue all the time. They would also often fight in front of customers,” testified the bar-tender.
Mwangi denied the murder charge and gave a sworn defence. He told court that while walking home with his wife they were attacked by thugs, who injured him on the chest and waist.
The accused gave no more details about the alleged attack.
“One would expect details of how they, the thugs, approached them. What they said to accused and deceased, if any, to give an impression they would attack and most importantly how the accused got his injuries. Other than saying they were attacked by thugs the other happenings which led the accused to run to the neighbour’s place is shrouded in mystery,” said Justice Kasango.
Scene of attack
When police took away Carol’s body, she was found to have her money and phone.
Mwangi had produced a P3 form to prove the injuries suffered during the attack by thugs. He said the deceased screamed and he ran to the home of a neighbour.
Together with the neighbours they went to the scene of attack and to the club but they did not find Carol.
On their relationship, the accused stated that “previously, I and deceased had moments of difficulties but we always resolved them peaceful. I never assaulted the deceased during our cohabitation…Both of us were drunk on the material night.”
The court noted Carol’s mother testified in detail how the accused used to assault her.
“It must therefore be assumed to be correct. Similarly the testimony of the differences that occurred between accused and deceased on the material night as stated by the bar-tender was not subjected to cross examination,” said the judge.
The court found the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to convict him.