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Both sides seeking more information in murder case

Published November 09. 2010 05:00PM

Both sides in a pending murder trial in Carbon County were in court Monday afternoon seeking more information from each other in the case.

District Attorney Gary F. Dobias, however, told President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II that he feared that the latest request made by defense counsel for Ernest Troy Freeby, 35, of Lansford, will delay the of-delayed trial again.

Defense attorney Paul Levy has requested more information from the commonwealth, despite receiving more than 2,000 pages of evidence gathered by state police investigators, Dobias said.

The trial of Freeby, accused of murdering his wife, Edwina Atieno Onyango, is scheduled for the January 2011 term of court. Dobias noted to the court that the trial has been continued 10 times already.

Levy asked the court for the DA to turn over the blood samples investigators used in testing for DNA of the alleged victim and compared with siblings of the victim. He also wants all the medical records of Onyango when she was tested at St. Luke's Hospital, Fountain Hill. Levy claimed those tests revealed that Onyango was HIV positive.

Levy said he needs the samples so his DNA expert can run his own tests.

The blood samples were retrieved by investigators in the basement of Freeby's Lansford home.

Dobias protested giving Levy the St. Luke's records asking what relevance to the case were the records that Onyango may have tested positive for HIV.

Levy also protested that the materials supplied to him from Dobias, which includes written statements made by various possible witnesses, included "blackouts." Levy said the addresses and phone numbers and other parts of the numerous reports were blacked out.

Dobias disputed that claim. He said the addresses, phone numbers and personal information, such a Social Security numbers, were blacked out but nothing else. Dobias also referred to state rules of criminal procedure which states the Commonwealth may conceal personal data of prospective witnesses that only eye witnesses personal information must be made available to defense.

Dobias added, "We have supplied defense with at least six different discoveries (evidence gathered)."

Concerning the blood samples, Dobias said if they are still available he will supply them, but added the 2,000 pages given to the defense contains all testing results, charts, photos and interviews. He added, "I don't know what else he (Levy) needs."

Nanovic said he would require the St. Luke's material be turned over as requested by Levy, which Dobias said he would do as soon as possible.

Concerning the blacked out material, Nanovic told Levy to copy about 50 pages of the material in which blackouts appear so he could examine it and see if anything should be revealed.

In his quest for information, Dobias said Freeby told investigators that he received several cards and/or letters from Onyango after she was reported missing. He said he wanted Levy to turn them over so that they can be reviewed and tested.

Levy said he was only told of one card by his client but has never seen it.

Dobias also said he is entitled to a written report from the defense's expert. Dobias said he is also entitled to a background report on the expert concerning his qualifications.

Dobias also said he wants written copies of all interviews conducted by the investigator hired by the defense, which law entitles him to receive.

Levy said he would provide the material as it is given to him.

Nanovic also voiced concern about the latest requests delaying the trial. He told Dobias and Levy to be available for a conference on Friday to review all matters pending in the case.

The body of Onyango, 34, has never been found. She had been reported missing since Dec. 9, 2007.

According to state police, Onyango came to the United States from Kenya, on Sept. 1, 1998. She and Freeby met and married in Allentown on March 20, 2001. Freeby later returned to Lansford and resided with a girlfriend.

The case against Freeby came together on Jan. 17, 2008, when police searched his house.

Blood samples found in the basement matched DNA to Onyango, police said.

Freeby has denied the murder claiming Onyango had contacted him since disappearing and telling reporters that she "took off" because she was in trouble with other unnamed individuals.

He was arrested in August 2009 and has been held in the county prison without bail since then.

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