After nine months of intense speculation, the trial of the highly publicised murder of businesswoman Monica Kimani starts this morning at the High Court in Nairobi.
There are signs that the trial will feed Kenyans with a dose of high legal and relationship drama.
Journalist Jacque Maribe and her fiancé Joseph Irungu alias Jowie, who are supposed to be celebrating a first anniversary of their engagement, will be seated together in the dock as the prosecution lays out its case against them as the key suspects in the murder.
Monica Kimani was killed in her Lamuria Gardens apartment on the night of September 19, 2018 after arriving from Juba, South Sudan, where she operated her family business and was en route to Dubai to meet her fiancé.
If found guilty, Ms Maribe, who has been out on bond, and Mr Jowie, who has been denied bail twice, face death penalties.
Penal Code Section 204 states that anyone found guilty of murder, robbery with violence, treason and other capital offences shall be hanged. But this can only be if lead prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki convinces Justice Philip Wakiaga that the two conspired and carried out the gruesome murder.
Some of the questions the trial will be seeking to answer is: What the motive of the murder? Did the accused have any prior relationship with Ms Kimani?
It has been widely speculated that Kimani had a close relationship with South Sudanese governor and former presidential candidate Awet Akot, who was allegedly financing her expensive lifestyle in Nairobi and that she had flown in with large sums of money on the day she was killed.
The wheat will finally be separated from the chaff as the prosecution calls its first among the 32 witnesses it has lined up.
“Four of the witnesses are protected while five will be expert witnesses,” the lead prosecutor told court two weeks ago.
The protected witnesses will be the first to testify in a case that has captured the attention of Kenyans since Ms Kimani was found in her bathtub dead with her throat slit.
The murder weapon, suspected to be a knife, has never been found, although detectives took knives from Ms Maribe’s kitchen for forensic testing.
Prosecution witnesses include the security guard on duty at Lamuria Gardens apartments on September 19 — the night Kimani was killed — and the gardener who first entered the house and found Kimani dead. Mr George Kimani, Monica Kimani’s brother, will also testify.
The suspects’ neighbour at Lang’ata, Mr Brian Kasaine, and Mr Jowie’s friend, Ms Jennings Orlando, will also testify.
OFF THE HOOK
Mr Kasaine and Mr Orlando were let off the hook after they agreed to cooperate with the police as State witnesses. It is Mr Kasaine’s gun that Mr Jowie used to allegedly shoot himself on the shoulder after the murder.
A live bullet that was recovered from under Ms Maribe’s bed during investigations matched the ones in Mr Kasaine’s firearm. Mr Kasaine was a licensed firearm holder at the time of the murder.
Statements filed by investigating officer Maxwell Otieno indicate that Mr Jowie tried to commit suicide inside Maribe’s house after the squabble. It is not clear how the disagreement ensued and over what, but all that might be revealed in the coming days.