A WOMAN jailed for 30 years for killing her foster mother after discovering that she was a foster child has had her sentence reduced to 12 years after the Court of Appeal found that she was convicted without sufficient evidence. Benedette Njoki, 36, was sentenced by the Nyeri High Court in 2019 after her adoptive father and housekeeper testified against her.
In the case, he was accused of killing Esther Wangare by stabbing her 42 times in the chest, on February 23, 2014, in Kihuyo village, Nyeri County. The witnesses told Nyeri High Court Judge Abigael Mshilla that after killing her, the accused locked the deceased in her bedroom. They said, when they found the deceased, she had already passed away due to heavy bleeding. Mr Michael Gachinga, the defendant’s foster father told the court that before the incident happened that evening, he had gone on a trip with his wife.
“When we got home we found the defendant angry, he didn’t give us a reason even though we understood well what was happening,” said Mr Gachinga.
The previous day while they were still on their trip, Mr Gachinga said they received news that their daughter had found out that she was adopted. Mr. Gachinga said that he got the information from a village elder who sent him a text message written by the accused.
“In that message, the accused swore to destroy the lives of her parents because of hiding such important information from her,” said Gachinga.
When they were returning home from the trip, Gachinga said they decided to report the threats at the police station because they did not believe their daughter anymore since now was a drug addict. When they got home, Gachinga left her daughter with her mother to discuss and went to the farm. After a short time, while he was still at the farm, their housemaid Ms. Jane Wambui followed him to the field complaining that the deceased was not available.
After searching for her at the neighbors, the court was told that the deceased was found murdered and locked in the defendant’s bedroom. However, the court was told that the convict was not present during the search. In her testimony, the maid Wambui told the court that she suspected something bad had happened to the deceased, when the suspect’s daughter, an 11-year-old girl, told her that she had seen her mother holding a bloody knife in her hand. When the murder took place, the suspect and his foster mother were alone in the house.
“We were outside with the suspect’s daughter who decided to go and see what was happening inside,” said the employee.
After a while, the employee told the Court that the child returned and told her mother had sent her cigarettes to the store. She also told her that the chairs in the living room were covered in blood. She said that she confirmed the allegations, although when he asked the suspect she did not answer. Witnesses told the court that the suspect fled the house after the incident. Defending herself before the court, the suspect denied the murder saying that she was not at home when the incident happened, she knew about her mother’s death through the media.
She also denied claims that she was upset by the news that she revealed that she was a foster child. However, in her judgment, Judge Mshilla said that the phone message communication between the deceased and the defendant showed that the defendant was upset by the news. He ruled that the state prosecutor presented evidence that was enough to prove the defendant committed the murder.