She was young, beautiful and bubbly, aged only 22.
Susan Wanjiku Kihiu was a bright student who scored a straight A in her KCSE examination, securing admission at the prestigious University of Nairobi.
She was pursuing a law degree but her life was cut short on June 30, 2013 by a neighbour who accused her of having a love affair with her husband.
The killing left Ms Kihiu’s family in Maai Mahiu devastated. They are still yet to come to terms with the tragedy.
After almost five years in the corridors of justice, the accused, Cecilia Waruguru Muriithi, has been handed a life sentence by the Naivasha High Court over the killing.
The court was told that on the night of June 30 and July 1, 2013 at Kingori Estate, Maai Mahiu, the accused murdered Susan Wanjiku Kihiu.
While delivering the ruling Tuesday, Justice Richard Mwongo noted that the murder was a crime of passion but the accused pretended she was never involved and put forth a “defence that was found to be flimsy and fictitious”.
He said the death was as a result of multiple stab wounds and the scalding by either hot water or a chemical substance.
“After the murder, the body was thrown in a field not far from the deceased’s home,” noted Mr Mwongo.
“In my view, a non-custodial sentence will pass the wrong message to many women and men stuck in situations where their spouses are in romantic affairs with girlfriends and boyfriends, commonly known as “mpango wa kando,” stated the Judge.
He added, “A non-custodial sentence may even trigger the idea that murder is fashionable and rewarding, an appropriate cure for mpango wa kando. Malady cannot cure murder.
“For these reasons, and having considered all the factors, I sentence the accused to life imprisonment with effect from April 1, 2019. The sentence shall be subjected to review after 20 years upon the accused’s demonstration of good conduct,” Mr Mwongo concluded.
The accused was given 14 days to appeal.
Appearing for the accused, lawyer David Gichuki, in mitigation, had told the court that Cecelia is a young mother aged 36 years and that her two children are both in primary school and need their mother’s care.
He further stated that the accused was remorseful and pleaded with the court for leniency, saying that there was hope that the accused could be rehabilitated and reformed.
Through the evidence adduced in court, Judge Mwongo noted that the accused cunningly lured Ms Kihiu to her death.
“The motive attributed to the planned murder was that the deceased was engaged in a romantic affair with the accused’s husband, with detailed evidence supporting the fact that the deceased and accused’s husband were frequently together,” he said.
The case was heard by Justice Christine Meoli who also wrote the judgment which was delivered by Judge Mwongo on April 1, 2019.
The accused was found guilty of murder, with Mr Mwongo meting out the sentence.
Ms Kihiu’s aunt, Zipporah Thuku, hailed the sentencing, saying it has “pacified” the family.
“We are still pained by the death of Wanjiku which was painful and unfortunate, but we are at peace now,” she said.
The late student’s father, John Kihiu Mwangi, termed the ruling as “remarkable” but lamented over the long time that the case took before being concluded.
“I am yet to come to terms with the sudden death of my third born daughter but justice has been served,” he said.
He said his daughter had big dreams about her future, but her life was snuffed by a neighbour.