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Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, found guilty of Monica Kimani murder, Jacque Maribe set free


Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, in court on February 9, 2024. Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, was on Friday found guilty of the brutal murder of businesswoman Monica Kimani, while his ex-fiancé, former TV presenter Jacque Maribe, was acquitted of the murder as the judge faulted the prosecution for preferring the wrong charge.

High Court Judge Grace Nzioka said the prosecution proved through a series of circumstantial evidence that Jowie committed the crime on the night of September 19, 2018.

Monica’s murder was one of the most heinous: She was slit from ear to ear by what investigators said was a highly skilled person. Her hands and legs were bound with straps before her throat was slit.

The killer, the evidence showed, left the water running in the bathtub where the murder occurred, and the television was left on.

The lights in the house were also on and candles were placed around the bathtub. 

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Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, is escorted to prison after he was found guilt of the murder of businesswoman Monica Kimani on February 9, 2024. Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

In her ruling, Judge Nzioka made 13 findings that implicated both Irungu and Maribe, but then exonerated Maribe of the murder charge, saying she was instead guilty of lying to a public officer, but could not be convicted of that because she had not been charged with that offence.

The court rejected Irungu’s defense that he didn’t know Monica before her death, which Judge Nzioka said was “an insincere, untenable afterthought”.

Second, the court found that Dominic Bisera’s identity card, which Jowie used to gain access to Monica’s residence at Lamuria Garden Apartments, had been stolen two days before the murder.

Thirdly, the court found that the witnesses corroborated their evidence regarding the clothes Irungu was wearing on the night of the murder.

Four, that the evidence proved that Irungu was in the vicinity of Monica’s house on the night of the murder.

Five, that Irungu was at Monica’s house on the material date and was the last person seen with her.

Six, that Irungu had a gun with the intention of subduing Monica.

Read: Jacque Maribe: From award winner to murder suspect

Seventh, that the identification parade was flawed and therefore the court cannot convict Irungu on the basis of the parade alone.

Eight, that the defence’s argument that no one could commit the murder in only 10 minutes is not tenable.

Nine, that the prosecution’s contradictions were inconsequential to the guilt or otherwise of the accused.

Ten, that although the case was based on circumstantial evidence, the prosecution presented sufficient evidence. 

Read: Maribe’s dad: My daughter is guilty of love, not murder

Eleven, that the evidence leads to a strong conclusion that Irungu murdered Monica.

“It is the finding of this court that the first accused person (Joseph Irungu alias Jowie) murdered Monica Kimani. I find the first accused person guilty as charged,” Justice Nzioka ruled.

Justice Nzioka said the evidence did not place Maribe at the scene of the crime and there was no evidence that she communicated with Monica.

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Jacque Maribe at Milimani Law Courts on February 9, 2024 ahead of the judgment on the murder of businesswoman Monica Kimani, in which she was charged alongside her ex-fiance Joseph Irungu, aka Jowie. Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

She further ruled that Maribe’s inconsistent statements to the police amounted to the offence of giving false information to a person in a public office, which she was guilty of but had not been charged with and therefore could not be convicted.

Judge Nzioka directed the Director of Public Prosecutions to reconsider the matter, as there are no restrictions on preferring a criminal charge.

Read: Monica murder – Jowie changed clothes at victim’s house 

Irungu and Ms Maribe both pleaded not guilty to the murder of 28-year-old Monica, an offence they allegedly committed on the night of September 19, 2018. 

The woman had flown into the country on the fateful Wednesday not knowing what to expect.

Evidence presented in court showed that she landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at around 6pm from Juba, South Sudan where she ran a family business. She immediately called her brother George to inform him of her arrival.

She was picked up by Mr John Otieno, a taxi driver, who dropped her off and drove away. 

On the way, the taxi driver remembered Monica talking to a boda boda rider who later picked up a parcel from her and drove away.

Monica was due to fly to Dubai the next day to meet a Mr Nasser Mohammed, a Sudanese businessman.

A few hours later, Mr Lee Owen Omondi Madala, who had met Monica in South Sudan, visited the flat to collect his car logbook. He found Monica with two men and identified one of them as Irungu and the other as Mr Walid, Monica’s neighbour.

Mr Walid, he said, was elderly and grey-haired and was introduced to him as a good neighbour who had come to visit her after she had flown back to Kenya.

Monica also introduced Irungu as a security officer in the President’s office and also worked as a security officer for Interpol.

He said Irungu was dressed in a kanzu, a red cap and a grey coat. Monica claimed that although Irungu did not normally dress like this, he (Irungu) was on a security exercise in Lamu and had to wear such clothes.

She further explained that Irungu had rented a house in Eastleigh for security purposes, hence the way he dressed.

The group had a few drinks before the old man left.

The three continued to drink until about 10.45 pm when Mr Madala left. Their conversations centred on security matters, the witness said.

The next morning, George called his sister but she did not answer. Eventually the phone went dead.

Worried that she might have flown to Dubai without meeting him, George decided to visit the apartment in the late afternoon. He arrived and made contact with the caretaker – Mr Regan Buluku.

The police later visited the scene, collected some items from the house and took the body to the morgue.

On Friday, September 21, Irungu shot and injured himself after an argument with his fiancé, TV presenter Jacque Maribe, at the Royal Park apartment. He then ran to a neighbour – Mr Brian Kassaine – and asked him to secure his gun. 

Read: Maribe’s story…in her own words

They rushed him to hospital where his wound was treated. They later went to Lang’ata Police Station where they reported that Irungu had been shot by three thugs in the early hours of the morning as he entered the house.

The police later visited the alleged scene of the shooting and after questioning the guards, they denied hearing any gunshots.

The three were later questioned by police about Monica’s murder after police noticed Maribe’s car, a Toyota Allion, at Lamuria’s garden apartment.

Mr Irungu was arrested on Monday, September 24, and taken to Lang’ata Police Station when Maribe went missing. She later told police that she had panicked and gone to her parents’ house after her fiancé’s arrest.

Ms Maribe was arrested five days later and police applied to a Kiambu court to remand the duo along with Kassaine for 10 days while they completed investigations into the killing.

The prosecution, through State lawyer Gikui Gichuhi, urged the court to find the duo guilty of murder.

She said Irungu was planted at the scene of the crime and was positively identified by witnesses. He later tried to hide evidence by burning the clothes he wore on the fateful night.

The prosecutor added that the two gave false information to the police and that Maribe knew that her fiancé had a gun in the house but never bothered to tell the police. She also lied about Irungu’s injury, the prosecutor said.

Read: Monica murder trial – Jowie lied about his shooting, court told 

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