US judge finds Kenyan in attempted murder case mentally ill

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A United States judge has ordered that a homeless Kenyan man who stabbed a professor at Columbus State Community College in Ohio be committed to a state psychiatric hospital.

Isaac Rotich, 46, stabbed Prof Kipleting Mengich – a Kenyan – in June 2012 in what the police described as “a bizarre case of attempted murder.”

In a ruling seen by the Nation Friday, Franklin County Judge Laurel Beatty said that Rotich remained incompetent to stand trial owing to severe mental illness.

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“So far, there is clear and compelling evidence that Rotich committed attempted murder but he is a mentally ill person subject to court-ordered hospitalization,” read part of the ruling.

Investigators said that Mengich, then 38, was stabbed in the stomach with a pocketknife and collapsed in the hallway of the nearby Madison Hall.

Following the stabbing of the professor at the Downtown Ohio Campus, police mounted a manhunt and Rotich was arrested at the Faith Mission homeless shelter on Long Street and charged him with felonious assault.

This is the second time a judge has ruled that Rotich is not stable enough to stand trial. Following his arrest in 2012, the prosecution prayed for time as the accused underwent medical assessment.

“The psychologist thought Rotich could become competent within a year if confined and treated at a hospital,” a source familiar with the case told the Nation by phone.

A statement filed with the court five months after the stabbing incident said the State found Rotich unable to understand the charges against him or assist himself in his defense.

Investigations by the Nation have revealed that prior to the incident; a number of Kenyans living in Ohio had sensed that all was not well with Rotich.

“He kept to himself and nobody seemed to know where he spent most of his time,” said a source who sought anonymity.

A Kenyan claiming to be a friend of the two told Channel 10, a local Television station, that before the stabbing incident, Rotich had vowed that he would kill somebody.

“I was shocked, because three months ago, he came to my place and told me he wanted to die but would not go to meet his maker alone,” Mutai said.

Mengich, a part-time Statistics professor, was treated at Ohio Health Grant Medical Centre.

Both men are immigrants from Kenya and reportedly knew each other. It was however not clear what could have led to the near-fatal altercation.

Rotich will now remain at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare in Columbus, Ohio and any changes in his confinement level must be approved by the judge.-nation.co.ke

Mr Isaac Rotich. A United States judge has ordered that the Kenyan man be committed to a state psychiatric hospital. PHOTO| COURTESY OF FRANKLIN COUNTY JAIL, OHIO.

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