The murder trial of a Lansford man, charged with killing his estranged with and disposing of the body, began this morning in Carbon County court before President Judge Roger N. Nanovic.
Ernest Troy Freeby, 36, is charged with criminal homicide in the death of Edwina Atieno Onyango in December 2007, and tampering with evidence. Her body has never been found.
The jury panel was selected during a daylong session of court Monday. The panel was finally in place at about 3 p.m. Jurors reported for jury duty at 9 a.m.
District Attorney Gary F. Dobias is prosecuting the case. Freeby is represented by public defenders, attorneys Paul Levy and George Dydynsky.
The trial is expected to last at least two weeks due to the numerous witnesses expected to be called by Dobias and defense counsel.
Onyango, 34, a native of Kenya, was reported missing by her brother on Dec. 9, 2007. The case began as a missing person investigation and turned into a homicide. Lansford police began the probe when Onyango was reported missing. They turned the probe over to state police at Lehighton.
Onyango moved to the United States on Sept. 1, 1998. She resided in Allentown where she met and married Freeby. They married on March 20, 2001. Freeby later returned to Lansford where he lived with his girlfriend and their children. Onyango stayed in Allentown where she worked for an older couple.
Much of the Commonwealth's case is based on forensic evidence.
Troopers alleged that the woman was placed in the coal bin of the basement of Freeby's Lansford home, where officials claim they found a large quantity of blood that matched her DNA.
Her family became concerned when they did not hear from her. They reported to police they were in contact with her on a daily basis. She had not used her email account, bank account, credit card or car since she was reported missing.
Freeby told police that the marriage was one of convenience to help her get a green card so she could work. Freeby has denied killing his wife and claimed that she was in Lansford after the Dec. 9, 2007, when she had been reported missing by relatives.