How Lali got off scot-free in Tecra’s murder case
The case in which Mr Omar Lali was accused of killing his lover Tecra Muigai, a daughter of Keroche Breweries directors Tabitha Karanja and Joseph Karanja, was terminated after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) found the evidence “unclear and insufficient” to sustain it.
Sources told the Nation that when DPP Noordin Haji perused the file, he found the evidence weak, forcing him to drop the murder charge against Mr Lali.
The DPP had reportedly been under pressure to charge the 51-year-old.
“There was pressure to have the suspect charged with murder, but because the evidence was not sufficient, the DPP directed that a public inquest be opened,” said an official from the office of the DPP.
The sudden about-turn came only three days after the prosecution had approved the murder charge that saw Mr Lali taken to the High Court in Garsen, Tana River County, where he was directed to undergo a mental test to prepare him to stand trial.
The approval of the charge, sources said, had been done by the DPP’s representatives in Lamu who, together with the detectives investigating the matter, were under pressure to charge the suspect.
“No one can put the DPP himself under pressure and that is why he said he wants justice to be served,” said a senior prosecutor.
Holes were poked on, among other issues, the toxicology analysis which the Karanja family had ordered after the postmortem results were termed “inconclusive”.
“The toxicology results were not appealing to the prosecution and they could not be relied on,” said another source.
On Thursday, State Counsel Edie Kadebe, while dropping the charge, told presiding judge Roselyn Korir that the prosecution had decided to look into the events that led to Tecra’s death.
“It is a matter we discussed and explored with keenness and decided that for the sake of public interest and in the interest of justice, we pursue an open inquest,” said Mr Kadebe.
Mr Lali’s lawyer Yusuf Abubakar said he always believed his client was innocent.
“We are happy with the outcome. My client has not been happy since he was accused of killing the woman he loved and whom he had some plans with, but he is happy today,” said Mr Abubakar after the charge was dropped.
TEARS OF JOY
Mr Lali could not hide his tears of joy. After the court session in Garsen, an emotional Lali prayed outside the court and thanked God for his release.
The Nation has learnt that the Karanja family did not approve of the relationship between the Keroche director of strategy and the man who was twice her age.
According to the lawyer, Mr Lali, a tour guide and a boat operator in Lamu, told the investigators that he met Tecra in July, 2019 at Peponi Hotel.
She was struck by his “caring and loving personality,” and they became friends and later fell in love.
Tecra at the time needed a shoulder to lean on as she was going through some problems.
As their love blossomed, Mr Lali would introduce Tecra to his mother and siblings at their family home in Shela, Lamu.
“Tecra became so close with the family and especially Fadhila, one of Lali’s sisters, whose cooking she loved. She, therefore, would not miss a meal at the family’s house,” said Mr Abubakar.
She would even ask Lali’s mother to pray for her to stop drinking, become a Muslim and marry Lali.
A month into their relationship, the lovebirds started travelling together. They visited Naivasha, Meru, Kisumu, Zanzibar and Ethiopia, among other places. In November last year, Tecra introduced Lali to her parents.
“Tecra told her family that she was in love with him,” narrated the advocate.
After the visit, the lovers returned to Lamu where Tecra stayed until an emissary was sent to ask her to return home. “James was sent to talk to her, but she refused to listen to him,” reads the statement.
In December, her parents attended the annual Lamu Cultural Festival but Tecra did not return to Naivasha with them. In January, the two were invited to the Nairobi home.
“They went to Nairobi where they were invited for dinner,” he said, then they “came back (to Lamu) and settled”.
Tecra is said to have employed two of Lali’s nephews in a water company she owned back in Naivasha, where they worked until her death.
The lawyer says Tecra lived with Lali in different hotels in Lamu, but settled at Jaha House where the accident that led to her death happened.
During her stay on the island, Tecra is reported to have, together with Lali, been heavily drinking alcohol and chewing miraa.
On April 23, Mr Lali said in his statement he left her drinking and went to sleep at around 1am, as he had a toothache. Tecra, who had joined Mr Lali in the bedroom upstairs, is reported to have fallen down the staircase that leads to the downstairs bathroom.
“Omar was woken up by the loud sound when Tecra fell, only to see her lying down unconscious. He then called his brothers and, together, they rushed her to Shela Dispensary,” said the lawyer in a statement that corroborated the one Lali gave to the police.
At the dispensary, she was referred to King Fahad Hospital, where she was taken and a scan done. The Saturday Nation has learnt that a doctor asked Lali’s relative to get Pabrinex 1 and 2, used to help prevent Wernicke’s encephalopathy, a condition which can develop in alcohol-dependent people who are also malnourished.
When he saw that her condition was getting serious, Lali called Tecra’s mother informing her of what had happened.
The family then arranged for a plane from Amref, which evacuated her from Lamu to Nairobi Hospital, where she died on May 2.
Lali was among the passengers on the flight to Nairobi and after two days he was taken to a hotel where he stayed until May 2 when he drove to Lamu in the company of police officers.
“Lali received the news of the death of his lover on May 3, when he was in police custody before he was taken to court and later detained for 21 days,” said his advocate.
The police insisted the suspect pushed Tecra to her death in an argument, a claim the lawyer has vehemently refuted.
Lali is expected to help with the public inquest. If he is linked to the death he will once again be arrested and charged before the court.