The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case of a man convicted of the shotgun killing of a woman in a Hollywood sidewalk attack that authorities said was precipitated by a financial dispute over social media promotion work she did for his business.
Ezeoma Chigozie Obioha is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole for the July 5, 2015, slaying of Carrie Melvin, 30, who was shot once in the head near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and McCadden Place while walking with her boyfriend from their apartment to a nearby Thai restaurant.
Jurors convicted Obioha of first-degree murder and found true the special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain along with an allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a shotgun.
In March, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Obioha’s challenge to his conviction on numerous grounds, including his claim that a six-pack photo lineup shown to two eyewitnesses was impermissibly suggestive.
Jurors heard testimony that Melvin had filed a claim against Obioha and his designer clothing business, Hoodfellas, seeking $1,700 in unpaid wages, with a canceled cashier’s check issued by the business to Melvin for $1,620 attached to the claim, according to the appellate court panel’s March 7 ruling.
A notice of a conference involving the claim had been sent to Obioha on June 29, 2015, according to the ruling.
At Obioha’s sentencing in June 2017, the victim’s father said he came into the criminal proceedings with a “completely open mind.”
But after hearing the evidence, “there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the defendant is guilty,” Bernard Melvin told the court, adding that he “can never forgive” his daughter’s killer and that her loss makes him feel “as though I have lost a limb.”
He told Obioha’s family that they needed to recognize “a painful truth” that “he is a liar and a murderer and will spend the rest of his time in prison.”
Before the victim’s father and brother spoke, one of Obioha’s sisters stood in the back of the courtroom and shouted, “You’re sending an innocent man to prison,” before deputies escorted her out.
Other members of Obioha’s family were ordered to leave after disrupting the sentencing hearing, including another sister who told Melvin’s father, “Let’s work together to find the truth. I apologize for your loss.”
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