Monica Kimani was a young and successful businesswoman who was brutally murdered in her apartment in Nairobi in September 2018. The main suspect in her killing was Joseph Irungu, also known as Jowie, who was the ex-fiancé of a popular TV anchor, Jacque Maribe. After a long and dramatic trial, Jowie was found guilty of murder, while Maribe was acquitted. This article will explore the details of the case, the verdict, the reactions, and the implications of this shocking crime.
The Murder of Monica Kimani
Monica Kimani was born in 1991 in Juba, South Sudan, where her father worked as a missionary. She later moved to Kenya and studied at Kenya Polytechnic. She ventured into business and became involved in lucrative contracts in South Sudan, where she had connections with high-ranking officials. She was described by her friends and family as a hardworking, generous, and ambitious woman who had a bright future ahead of her.
The main suspect in her murder was Joseph Irungu, also known as Jowie, who was a former security officer for a private firm in Dubai and provided VIP security for some Kenyan politicians. He was also the ex-fiancé of Jacque Maribe, a TV presenter and news anchor who worked for Citizen TV. Jowie and Maribe had a public engagement in July 2018, but their relationship was rocky and marred by allegations of infidelity and violence.
Evidence presented in court
The prosecution alleged that Jowie, with others not before the court, murdered Monica Kimani on the night of September 19, 2018, at her Lamuria Gardens apartment in Kilimani, Nairobi. The motive for the killing was not established, but it was speculated that it could have been related to money, jealousy, or revenge. The prosecution presented the following evidence to support their case:
- CCTV footage showing Jowie entering and leaving Monica’s apartment complex using a fake ID card belonging to another person.
- DNA analysis linking Jowie to bloodstains found on Monica’s body and clothes, as well as a knife and a gun recovered from the crime scene.
- Phone records showing that Jowie and Monica had communicated before the murder, and that Jowie had called Maribe several times after the murder.
- Testimony from a security guard who saw Jowie leaving the apartment with a bag and a wound on his left shoulder, which he claimed was a result of a gunshot by unknown assailants on his way home.
- Testimony from a taxi driver who drove Jowie to Maribe’s house after the murder, and who noticed blood on his clothes and a gun in his bag.
- Testimony from a neighbor who heard a woman screaming from Monica’s apartment on the night of the murder.
The defense argued that Jowie was innocent and that he did not know Monica, despite the fact that they had attended the same college and were in the same class. The defense also claimed that the evidence was fabricated, tampered with, or unreliable, and that Jowie was a victim of a conspiracy and a media trial.
The Trial and Verdict
Testimonies of witnesses
The trial of Jowie and Maribe began in June 2019 and lasted for more than two years, with over 40 witnesses testifying for both sides. Some of the key witnesses included:
- George Kimani, Monica’s brother, who found her body in a bathtub with her hands tied and her throat slit. He also identified Jowie as the last person to see her alive, and said that Monica had told him that she was expecting a visitor who was supposed to help her with some business deals.
- Brian Kassaine, Maribe’s neighbor and friend, who said that Jowie had borrowed his gun on the night of the murder, and that he had helped him burn his clothes and dispose of the bullet cartridge. He also said that Maribe had confided in him that Jowie had killed Monica, and that she was afraid of him.
- Dennis Itumbi, a digital strategist and a friend of Maribe, who said that he had received a text message from Maribe on the day of the murder, saying that she loved him and that she was sorry for everything. He also said that he had visited her in prison and that she had told him that she was innocent and that Jowie had lied to her about the gunshot wound.
- Jeniffer Githinji, a househelp who worked for Maribe, who said that she had seen Jowie with a wound on his shoulder and a gun in his hand on the morning after the murder. She also said that she had cleaned bloodstains from the bathroom and the bedroom, and that she had witnessed Jowie and Maribe arguing and fighting on several occasions.
Guilty verdict for Jowie Irungu
On February 9, 2024, Justice Grace Nzioka delivered her verdict, finding Jowie guilty of murder and Maribe not guilty. The judge said that the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Jowie, with others not before the court, had murdered Monica with malice aforethought, and that he had not given her even one minute to survive. The judge said that Jowie’s defense was implausible, inconsistent, and contradicted by the evidence. The judge also said that Jowie had shown no remorse or empathy for his actions, and that he had tried to cover up his crime by lying, burning his clothes, and inflicting a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Inexcusable homicide ruling
On the other hand, the judge acquitted Maribe of the murder charge, saying that the prosecution had failed to link her to the actual commission of the crime, and that the evidence against her was circumstantial, weak, and insufficient. The judge said that Maribe was a victim of love, and that she had acted out of fear, shock, and confusion. However, the judge said that Maribe should be prosecuted for giving false information to the police, as she had lied about Jowie’s gunshot wound and had tried to conceal evidence by burning his clothes. The judge said that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) could take action against Maribe if it chose to.
Reactions to the Verdict
Statements from family and friends
The verdict elicited mixed reactions from the family and friends of the victim and the accused. Monica’s family expressed satisfaction and relief at the verdict, saying that justice had been served and that they could finally find closure. They also thanked the police, the prosecution, and the judge for their work, and said that they hoped that Jowie would get the maximum sentence possible. They also said that they forgave Maribe, and that they hoped that she would learn from her mistakes and move on with her life.
Jowie’s family expressed disappointment and disbelief at the verdict, saying that he was innocent and that he had been framed and scapegoated. They also accused the media, the public, and the judiciary of being biased and unfair to him, and said that they would appeal the verdict and fight for his freedom. They also said that they still loved him and that they would stand by him.
Maribe’s family expressed joy and gratitude at the verdict, saying that she had been vindicated and that she had suffered enough. They also thanked God, their lawyers, and their supporters for their prayers and assistance, and said that they were happy that she could finally resume her normal life and career. They also said that they sympathized with Monica’s family, and that they hoped that they would find peace and healing.
The verdict also sparked countrywide reactions from the public, the media, and the civil society. Many people expressed their opinions and sentiments on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using hashtags such as #JusticeForMonica, #FreeJowie, and #MaribeAcquitted. Some of the reactions were:
- “I am glad that Jowie has been found guilty. He deserves to rot in jail for what he did to Monica. She was a young and innocent woman who had a bright future ahead of her. He took away her life and her dreams. May he never find peace or happiness.” – @KimaniFan
- “I am sad that Jowie has been found guilty. He is innocent and he has been framed and victimized. He is a good and honest man who was loyal and loving to Maribe. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. May God intervene and set him free.” – @JowieFan
- “I am happy that Maribe has been acquitted. She is innocent and she has been traumatized and tormented. She is a talented and professional woman who had a successful career and a bright future ahead of her. She was just blinded by love and manipulated by Jowie. May she find happiness and fulfillment.” – @MaribeFan
The media also gave extensive coverage and analysis of the verdict, with some of the headlines being:
- “Jowie Irungu convicted of murdering Monica Kimani, as Jacque Maribe acquitted by Kenyan court” – BBC
- “Monica Kimani murder case: Joseph ‘Jowie’ Irungu found guilty as Maribe acquitted” – Citizen TV
- “Monica Kimani Case: Jowie Found Guilty of Murder” – Kahawa Tungu
The civil society also weighed in on the verdict, with some of the statements being:
- “We commend the court for delivering a fair and just verdict in the Monica Kimani murder case. We hope that this will serve as a deterrent to other perpetrators of gender-based violence and femicide, and that it will send a message that no one is above the law, that justice will always prevail, and that the rights and dignity of women will always be respected and protected.” – FIDA Kenya
- “We condemn the court for delivering a biased and unjust verdict in the Monica Kimani murder case. We believe that Jowie Irungu is innocent and that he has been falsely accused and convicted. We demand that the court reviews its decision and grants him a fair trial, and that the real killers of Monica Kimani are brought to book.” – Jowie Irungu Support Group
- “We applaud the court for delivering a balanced and reasonable verdict in the Monica Kimani murder case. We acknowledge that Jacque Maribe is not guilty of the murder, but we also urge the DPP to prosecute her for giving false information to the police, as this is a serious offense that undermines the rule of law and the administration of justice.” – Transparency International Kenya.
Aftermath and Implications
Possible sentencing for Jowie Irungu
Jowie Irungu is facing a possible death sentence or life imprisonment for the murder of Monica Kimani, as these are the penalties prescribed by the law for the offense of murder. However, the court has the discretion to impose a lesser sentence, depending on the circumstances of the case and the mitigating factors presented by the defense. The court is expected to hear the submissions of both parties and deliver the sentence on February 23, 2024.
Impact on related cases
The verdict of the Monica Kimani murder case may have an impact on other related cases, such as:
- The case of Maribe’s neighbor and friend, Brian Kassaine, who was initially arrested as a suspect in the murder, but later turned into a state witness. He is still facing charges of being an accessory after the fact and illegal possession of a firearm, as he had lent his gun to Jowie and had helped him burn his clothes and dispose of the bullet cartridge.
- The case of Jowie’s alleged accomplices, who have not been identified or arrested by the police, but who are believed to have assisted him in the planning and execution of the murder. The prosecution has indicated that it will continue to pursue them and bring them to justice.
- The case of Monica’s business dealings in South Sudan, which have been shrouded in mystery and controversy, and which may have been a motive for her murder. The police have said that they are investigating the source and nature of her wealth, and whether she was involved in any illegal or illicit activities.
Lessons learned and potential changes in laws or systems
The Monica Kimani murder case has also raised some important lessons and potential changes in the laws or systems, such as:
- The need for more awareness and action on the issue of gender-based violence and femicide, which is a rampant and serious problem in Kenya and across the world. The case has highlighted the vulnerability and plight of women who are subjected to violence, abuse, and murder by men who are supposed to love and protect them. The case has also sparked a public outcry and a call for justice for the victims and survivors of such crimes, and for the perpetrators to be held accountable and punished accordingly.
- The need for more professionalism and integrity in the media and the judiciary, which are key pillars of democracy and justice. The case has exposed the challenges and pitfalls of media coverage and public opinion on high-profile and sensational cases, which can influence and interfere with the judicial process and the outcome of the case. The case has also shown the importance and difficulty of maintaining impartiality and objectivity in the media and the judiciary, especially when dealing with powerful and influential personalities and interests.
- The need for more reforms and improvements in the criminal justice system, which is faced with many challenges and gaps. The case has revealed the weaknesses and inefficiencies of the police, the prosecution, and the courts, which can affect the quality and speed of investigations, prosecutions, and trials. The case has also demonstrated the opportunities and innovations of the criminal justice system, such as the use of DNA analysis, CCTV footage, phone records, and other forensic and digital evidence, which can enhance the accuracy and reliability of the evidence and the verdict.
The Monica Kimani murder case is one of the most shocking and sensational cases in Kenya’s history, which has captured the attention and emotions of the public, the media, and the judiciary. The case has involved a young and successful businesswoman who was brutally murdered in her apartment, a former security officer who was convicted of the murder, and a popular TV anchor who was acquitted of the murder. The case has also involved a long and dramatic trial, with over 40 witnesses, a guilty verdict for one accused and a not guilty verdict for another, and a possible death sentence or life imprisonment for the convicted. The case has also had an impact on other related cases, and has raised some important lessons and potential changes in the laws or systems. The case is not yet over, as the sentencing of Jowie Irungu is pending, and the possibility of an appeal is looming. The case will continue to generate interest and debate, as it has raised many questions and issues that are relevant and significant for the society and the country.