Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
September 17, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
FATHER FOUND SANE AND RESPONSIBLE FOR MURDERING HIS 4-YEAR-OLD SON BY DROWNING
HIM IN BATHTUB AFTER BECOMING ANGRY OVER PAYING CHILD SUPPORT
SANTA ANA – A jury found today that a father was sane and criminally responsible for murdering his 4-year-old son by drowning him in a bathtub. The defendant became angry after discovering that his wages would be garnished to support his son and ex-wife. Gideon Walter Omondi, 38, Fullerton, was previously found guilty by a jury on Sept. 8, 2009, of one felony count of first degree murder and one felony count of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation. He faces a maximum sentence of 32 years to life in state prison at his sentencing on Friday, Nov. 6, 2009, at 9:00 a.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 working several jobs while on a student visa, wanted to send his wife and son back to Kenya because it was too expensive to support a family in Orange County. When his wife refused, Omondi filed for divorce. After the divorce, Omondi and his ex-wife were granted joint custody, and the defendant became angry that his wages would be garnished to support his ex-wife and son.
On Jan. 6, 2006, Omondi became angry following a family court hearing. He drove with his son to a desolate stretch of highway near Bakersfield with the intention of murdering Richie and killing himself. Omondi parked the car on the side of the road, doused the trunk of his BMW sedan with gasoline, and closed 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 claimed that the pair had been sleeping and 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, picked up 4-year-old Richie from day care. At approximately 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2006, Omondi filled up his bathtub in his Fullerton apartment and intentionally drowned Richie. He then removed his son’s lifeless body and left him on the bed for two hours.
At approximately 9:30 p.m., Omondi drove to the Fullerton Police Department (FPD) and told police that he had murdered his son. The defendant told officers that he felt his son was being used by his ex-wife and the court system to make his life difficult, and that killing Richie was better than being separated from him. 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.
After the jury found the defen