Crime & Justice

Orange County man sentenced for drowning 4-year-old son

Gideon Omondi was sentenced today to 25 years to life in prison after being convicted of murdering his 4-year-old son. Omondi drowned his son in a bathtub after becoming angry over having to pay child support. Omondi had turned himself in.

Omondi had discovered that his wages would be garnished to support his son and ex-wife, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Omondi was found guilty on Sept. 8, 2009. He had pleaded not guilty due to insanity, but the jury found him to be legally sane at the time of the murder.

On Sept. 8, 2006, Omondi picked up his 4-year-old son Richie from day care. Omondi and his ex-wife had joint custody, and Omondi had custody for the weekend. At approximately 7 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2006, Omondi filled up the bath in his Fullerton apartment and drowned Richie. He left the body on the bed for two hours.

At approximately 9:30 p.m., Omondi drove to the Fullerton Police Department and told police he had murdered his son. Omondi told officers 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 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 web from being placed there after being drowned.

Omondi had previously tried killing both his son and himself. 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 where he planned on killing himself and his son, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. 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 car on fire.

A passing California Highway Patrol officer noticed the car and stopped to check on it, thinking it was abandoned. The officer saw shoes outside the trunk and opened the trunk, finding Omondi and his son inside. Omondi claimed they had been sleeping and the officer allowed Omondi to leave.

Omondi had moved to the United States in 2002 from Kenya to attend California State University, Fullerton. In 2004, his son Richie and his wife moved to California to join him.

Omondi was working several jobs while on a student visa and 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.

During today's sentencing, Omondi's ex-wife Hellen Mwangi gave a tearful victim impact statement, telling that court that her son had wanted to be a fireman. She said Richie had never hurt anyone and that Omondi was a monster for drowning him. Mwangi said Omondi cared more about his education than his son.