St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak said today a deputy prosecutor has resigned after failing to prosecute a man who was arrested but released without being charged three days before he killed his 6-year-old daughter.
Dvorak said Edward Mwaura, 33, should have been prosecuted May 30 after his estranged wife, 32-year-old Lucy Mundia, called police to complain that he had come to her apartment at 4252 Irish Hills Drive in violation of a protective order.
“This is my office, and these are my deputy prosecutors, and we should have filed a charge of violation of a protective order,” Dvorak said. “We would have if we would have done more than a cursory review of the evidence.”
Mwaura was arrested and booked into the county jail about 7:30 a.m. May 30, but he was released six hours later without being charged because the deputy prosecutor did not find the correct file in a protective order registry, Dvorak said.
Less than three days later, police responding to a violent domestic dispute forced their way into the same apartment, where an officer shot and killed Mwaura as he stabbed to death the estranged couple’s daughter, 6-year-old Shirley Mundia, investigators said.
After Mwaura’s arrest May 30, the deputy prosecutor, who has not been identified, reviewed a protective order registry using Mwaura’s last name and found only a petition by Lucy Mundia that had been dismissed by a judge, the statement said. According to court records, Mundia filed for an order on Sept. 14, but a judge dismissed the petition Oct. 1 when neither Mundia nor Mwaura appeared at a scheduled hearing.
However, a separate request for a protective order was granted in December and was still active at the time of Mwaura’s arrest. The deputy prosecutor did not find the valid order because of a misspelling of Mwaura’s name, Dvorak said. But a search of Mundia’s name would have located the valid order — which was to remain active until June 1 — he said.
Without a valid protective order, prosecutors could not charge Mwaura with the violation, Dvorak said.
“This DPA failed to exercise the thoroughness expected, particularly in crimes with women and children as victims of domestic abuse,” Dvorak said.
Dvorak said he never personally reviewed the case on May 30.
Because the deputy prosecutor resigned, the prosecutor’s office was treating the person’s departure as a confidential personnel matter and would not release any more details about the person, said Lora Bentley, a spokeswoman for the office.
Dvorak said he did not want to speculate about whether or not Mwaura still would have killed his daughter if he had been charged. A first-time violation of a protective order is a Class A misdemeanor.
“I’m not going to speculate whether or not this horrible event would have occurred, because he would have been eligible to post bond,” Dvorak said of Mwaura.
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As The Tribune first reported Tuesday, Lucy Mundia called police to her Irish Hills apartment four times since December to report alleged domestic violence, harassment, protective order violation and attempted burglary, police records show. Of those incidents, Mwaura was arrested in only the protective order violation.
Lucy Mundia’s first call to police from her Irish Hills apartment came Dec. 2, and the second was Dec. 3 — the same day she filed for the protective order, which took effect Dec. 17. After filing for the protective order, Mundia did not call police again until May 30 — two days before Mwaura killed Shirley Mundia — according to the police records.
Dvorak said he had not spoken directly with Lucy Mundia, but a member of his staff was in contact with her.
“We have reached out to the victim and explained all that we failed to do,” he said. “We’ve expressed our concern for the fact that this crime was not prosecuted.”
Shooting ruled justified
The prosecutor’s office also said today it has completed a review of Mwaura’s shooting death and found that city police Lt. Steven Noonan was justified in killing Mwaura to stop the man’s attack on his daughter.
When police responded to Irish Hills about 5:06 a.m. Sunday, they met outside with Lucy Mundia, who was bleeding from knife wounds to her hands, cheek and chest, the office said in a statement. Mundia told officers that Mwaura was still inside the apartment with Shirley Mundia.
Noonan was among several police officers who approached the apartment and found the door locked. Noonan called once for Mwaura to come outside before police heard screams from inside, the statement said. Noonan then forced open the door and entered the apartment with several officers behind him.
When Noonan saw Mwaura stabbing Shirley Mundia in the bedroom, he fired two shots, hitting Mwaura with both, the statement said. Mwaura fell to the floor and died, the statement said.
After an autopsy, medical examiners said Mwaura died from two gunshots and a stab wound to the chest. The stab wound was not Mwaura’s immediate cause of death, and it remains unclear what caused the stab wound, the statement said.
Investigators found several bloody knives scattered throughout the apartment, the statement said. They also found two spent shell casings in the apartment and recovered two bullets from Mwaura’s body. Two rounds were missing from Noonan’s gun, the statement said.