|For Immediate Release
Case # 07ZF0146
August 27, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
FATHER FACES TRIAL FOR MURDERING 6-YEAR-OLD SON BY DROWNING HIM IN BATHTUB AFTER BECOMING ANGRY OVER PAYING CHILD SUPPORT
SANTA ANA – A father faces trial for murdering his 6-year-old son by drowning him in a bathtub after becoming angry that his wages would be garnished to support his son and ex-wife. Gideon Walter Omondi, 38, Fullerton, is charged with one felony count of murder and one felony count of attempted murder. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if convicted. Opening statements are scheduled to begin today, Thursday Aug. 27, 2009, at 4:00 p.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Omondi moved to the United States in 2002 from Kenya to attend the California State University, Fullerton. In 2004, his wife and young son, Richie Omondi, also moved to California to join him. The defendant, who was illegally working several jobs while on a student visa, is accused of wanting to send his wife and son back to Kenya claiming it was too expensive to support a family in Orange County. When his wife refused, Omondi is accused of filing for divorce. After the divorce, Omondi and his ex-wife were granted joint custody. Omondi is accused of becoming angry that his wages would be garnished to support his ex-wife and son.
On Jan. 6, 2006, Omondi is accused of becoming angry following a family court hearing. He is accused of driving with his son to a desolate stretch of highway near Bakersfield with the intention of murdering Richie and killing himself. Omondi is accused of parking the car on the side of the road, dousing the trunk of his BMW sedan with gasoline, and closing himself and his son in the trunk with matches in his pocket with the intention of setting the trunk on fire.
A passing California Highway Patrol officer noticed the car and stopped to check on it, believing it had been abandoned. The officer observed shoes outside of the trunk of the car and opened the trunk, finding the defendant and his son inside. Omondi is accused of claiming that the pair had been sleeping. The officer allowed the defendant to leave but documented the contact.
On Sept. 8, 2006, Omondi, who had custody of his son for the weekend, is accused of picking up 6-year-old Richie from day care. At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2006, Omondi is accused of filling up his bathtub in his Fullerton apartment and intentionally drowning Richie. He is accused of then removing his son’s lifeless body and leaving him on the bed for two hours.
At approximately 9:30 p.m., Omondi is accused of driving to the Fullerton Police Department (FPD) to tell them about his son. Officers from FPD went to Omondi’s home and found Richie dead in the bed, under the covers, with his head on the pillow. The pillow was still wet from the victim being placed there after being drowned.
As the defendant entered pleas of “not guilty” and “not guilty by reason of insanity,” the trial will be held in two phases. The first phase is the guilt phase, during which jurors hear evidence about the crime. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of that crime.