He claims self-defense in wife's hammer death

Posted: August 10, 2007

Paul K. Wanyoike doesn't remember how many times he bludgeoned his wife over the head with his hammer, but he remembers the couple's two young daughters watching from the kitchen cabinet as he did.

His wife was struck 32 times, according to the medical examiner.

Yesterday Wanyoike, 34, of Woodlyn, testified in his own defense in Delaware County court, contending that he killed his 24-year-old wife, Yetumbe Wanyoike, in self-defense on Jan. 28.

Yetumbe's mother, Alice Johnson, was so distraught over his version of events that she ran from the courtroom, doubled over in grief.

Wanyoike, a native of Kenya who immigrated to this country in 2001, married his wife, a nursing student, in March 2005. By November 2006, he said, he started noticing changes in his bride. She was talking and texting on her cell phone more often and spent a good bit of time on the family's computer, he said.

Wanyoike said he became suspicious after he discovered his wife's page on MySpace, a social-networking Web site, in which, he claimed, she listed herself as single and posted pictures of strange men and naked women.

When he asked her if she was cheating on him, Wanyoike said his wife replied, "No, but I am flirtatious with women."

During testimony, Wanyoike continually stated that he was not a jealous husband, but admitted contacting several men - including the couple's cell-phone representative and his wife's ex-husband - whom he suspected of having affairs with Yetumbe.

He also contended that Yetumbe physically assaulted him at least once, though he said he never laid a hand on her.

The fight that eventually led to Yetumbe's death began after Yetumbe asked Wanyoike why he'd been contacting her ex-husband.

"She kept calling me a crazy," he said.

So Wanyoike text-messaged his sister - moments before his wife's death - stating that his marriage was over.

"I can't take it anymore . . . she cheated on me with her ex-husband . . . and Brandon from Cingular . . . she treats me like trash . . . she wants to take my daughter . . . she is a woman and a citizen so they will favor her," the message said, according to documents introduced into evidence by the defense.

Yetumbe, a Ugandan native, was a U.S. citizen. But Wanyoike did not receive his green card until his marriage to Yetumbe. A divorce would mean a five-year wait to gain U.S. citizenship, prosecutors said.

The fight between the couple escalated, Wanyoike said, when Yetumbe began to call him "a stupid nigger" and "all of a sudden" came at him with a kitchen knife.

He said he picked up a hammer and the two struggled for control of the tool.

Eventually, Wanyoike said, Yetumbe poured a pot of boiling rice she was making on his head. The two fell and again struggled for control of the hammer, he said.

"That's when I hit her," Wanyoike testified. "I don't know how many times I hit her. I realized she's not moving. I panicked."

The couple's two girls, ages 4 and 1, watched from their favorite hiding spot in an empty kitchen cabinet, Wanyoike said.

Once Yetumbe's body was lifeless on the kitchen floor, the kids followed him around the house.

"I was crying, holding both kids in the living room," he said. "I didn't expect anything like that to happen to us. I didn't want to see it."

Wanyoike wanted to escape the moment, so much so that he "drank whatever chemicals" were in the house, including bleach, cough medicine and prescription drugs.

"I just wanted to die," he said.

On cross-examination, prosecutor Stephanie Wills asked Wan-yoike if he intended to kill his wife.

"Um, I don't remember what happened," Wanyoike said.

Closing arguments are scheduled for this morning. *

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