A Watertown man convicted at trial of killing two sisters in 2005 has renewed a federal petition claiming he is being unlawfully held in state prison for the crimes.
Edundabira O. Ojo, 36, filed a writ of habeas corpus Jan. 20 with U.S. District Court, Syracuse, claiming, among other things, the weight of the evidence presented at trial did not support his convictions on two counts of second-degree murder.
Ojo was convicted of the murder counts and three other charges on Feb. 15, 2006, following a Jefferson County Court trial. He was found guilty of stabbing to death sisters Kelly M. Exford, 22, and Shannon M. St. Croix, 24, at an apartment at 735 Cooper St. on April 1, 2005.
He filed a habeas corpus petition in April 2010 containing many of the same allegations he makes in the current petition but dropped the action weeks later because he had not exhausted all of his remedies in the state court system. Among claims denied in his state action was that County Court had erred by not suppressing statements he made to Watertown police officers and that there was no probable cause to arrest him for the killings.
He claims that his vehicle was seized as evidence when he arrived at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building to pick up his girlfriend. He contends the vehicles seizure was made before a warrant had been issued authorizing it and that he never gave permission for a search to be conducted. A forensic scientist testified at Ojos trial that a bloodstain found in his car contained a DNA profile consistent with that of Mrs. St. Croix.
Ojo further maintains that the seizure of his vehicle indicated he was in police custody but that he was never advised of his right to have counsel present when police were questioning him. He claims any subsequent statements he made to police should have been suppressed, which County Court Judge Kim H. Martusewicz refused to do.
Ojo had raised similar arguments in an appeal to the state Appellate Division, Fourth Department, which affirmed the lower courts rulings in 2007. He is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole at Attica Correctional Facility.