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American boyfriend of missing Kenyan woman jailed in US for 9 years

Mr Nathan Hightman, an American national who is the main suspect in the disappearance of a Kenyan woman in the US has been sentenced to up to nine years in prison for financial and intellectual felonies.

Mr Hightman, was the fiancé to Ms Irene Gakwa, who went missing in March 2022 and has never been seen to date.

On Wednesday morning  (June 14, 2023), Mr Hightman, 39, appeared before Judge James Causey who sentenced him for theft since he unlawfully used a credit card which belonged to Ms Gakwa.

“Mr Hightman faces three to six years of concurrent prison time, with credit served for 81 days in Campbell County’s detention center, and a probation term with a suspended sentence of two to three years,” reported County 17, an American based news organisation.

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In addition, Hightman is also supposed to pay Sh700,000 and the money should be handed to Mr Kennedy Wainaina who is Ms Gakwa’s brothers.

The suspect’s defense attorney, Mr Dallas Lamb pleaded with the judge to reduce the sentence. The lawyer said the court needed to focus on the “objective reality,” or the crimes his client was convicted of, instead of the “subjective reality,” the mentality of the community, in sentencing.

The lawyer asked the court to sentence his client to two to five years of probation, with credit for time served, for two of the charges and two to five years of supervised suspended probation, as well as mental health services.

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The lawyer further argued that his client remained in the community and was cooperative with law enforcement and in addition compliant with bond terms.

“The one who needs protecting is Nathan Hightman,” the lawyer said.

Mr Hightman was on May 11, 2022, arrested by investigators as a person of interest in Ms Gakwa’s disappearance.

At the time, the Gillete Police Department said Hightman had been arrested for multiple felonies; one for unlawfully using Gakwa’s credit card and two for crimes against her intellectual property.

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