A convicted robbery suspect stunned a Nakuru court after he demanded to be sentenced to death.
Julius Magonjo Shinyanjui, who had earlier appealed against a 20-year sentence imposed by a lower court, said he wants his conviction enhanced.
The convict who is serving the sentence at Nakuru GK prison had appeared before Lady Justice Maureen Odero for hearing of his appeal.
Shinyanjui, who is represented by lawyer Maragia Ogaro, appeared composed and unpertubed and maintained that he was in good frame of mind and knew what he was saying.
His equally surprised lawyer looked on as Shinyanjui addressed the court.
Lady Justice Odero deferred the case to 6th of February next year to enable the convict to undergo a mental assessment to establish his mental status before the appeal case can proceed.
In the case against him, Shinyanjui was convicted of breaking into the home of one of his neighbours identified as John on 23rd September 2013 at Turi Market in Molo Sub County.
He was accused of stealing two phones and a HP laptop, all valued at Ksh 90, 000 while armed with crude weapons.
His demand comes only a day after the Supreme Court declared the death penalty provided for in the Penal Code unconstitutional.
This is after two murder convicts — Francis Muruatetu and Wilson Mwangi — moved to the apex court to challenge the legality of capital punishment.
They were convicted by Judge Msagha Mbogoli on March 12, 2003, in violation of Section 203 of the Penal Code and were sentenced to death as mandated by Section 204 of the Penal Code.
They then appealed the decision in the Court of Appeal, but their plea was dismissed but the death penalty was later commutted to life imprisonment by former President Mwai Kibaki on August 3, 2009.
In their landmark ruling on Thursday, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Lady Justice Njoki Ndung’u and Justice Jackton Ojwang’ averred that any court dealing with a capital offence should be allowed to use its judicial discretion to deliver judgment.
“We are of the view that the mandatory nature of this death penalty runs counter to the constitutional guarantees enshrined for the rule of law,” Mwilu said.
They said Section 204 of the Penal Code was unconstitutional and any legal procedure should be just, fair and reasonable.
“It is evident that the trial process does not stop at convicting the accused person. There is no doubt in our minds that sentencing is a crucial component of trial,” the apex court said.
The judges said the ruling should be placed before the Speaker of the National Assemmbly for necessary amendments to be made.
According to Amnesty International, the ruling, in effect means judges now have discretion and will no longer automatically sentence to death people convicted of murder or armed robbery – the only two crimes that still attract the death penalty in Kenya.
Oluwatosin Popoola, Amnesty International’s Adviser on the Death Penalty, said: “This landmark judgment is a significant step towards complete abolition of the ultimate cruel and inhumane form of punishment.
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“It’s now time for the Kenyan authorities to take the required legal steps to abolish the death penalty fully and join the 105 countries that have completely consigned the punishment to history,” Popoola added.
“Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution,” the rights group said in a statement. – Additional reporting by KNA