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Two motions heard in Freeby murder case

Published October 26. 2011 05:01PM

Two motions that had been made by the lawyers of a Lansford man accused of killing his estranged wife were heard in Carbon County court on Tuesday.

The first motion in the Ernest Troy Freeby case, which was to limit or exclude the prosecution's expert witness report by Dr. Isidore Mihalakis, forensic pathologist, would be submitted to President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II as a brief. No further discussion was needed.

The second motion, which discussed the attorney/client privilege between the victim, Edwina Atieno Onyango and immigration attorney Dennis Mulligan, who at the time he was hired by Onyango and Freeby was the executive director for the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia, was heard during testimony.

Freeby testified that he and Onyango, his wife, engaged the services of Mulligan for the purpose of getting her a green card after they were married. Deportation actions against Onyango, a native of Kenya, were also occurring at that time.

Following Freeby's testimony, Mulligan took the stand in the defense's attempt to see if information regarding Mulligan's interaction with the couple was valid for the case and could be revealed.

Mulligan explained that his practice is to represent low income immigrants during immigration proceedings.

He was contacted in 2006 by a caseworker from Liberty Center for Survivors of Torture regarding Onyango's residency in the United States.

When asked if he knew if Onyango was tortured in Kenya, Mulligan invoked attorney/client privilege.

On the couple's first meeting with Mulligan on June 26, 2006, he said they began the process of applying for permanent resident status. The first petition was completed by Freeby on behalf of his wife.

Dydynsky continued to ask how Onyango was in the country and why deportation proceedings had been started.

Mulligan said that she had entered the country on a temporary visa in the 1990s but that visa had expired.

Upon further questioning by Dydynsky regarding the Onyango's documentation, Mulligan again invoked attorney/client privilege.

Dydynsky then asked about an application that was submitted for Onyango's residency, which was rejected by the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services in 2007.

Mulligan continued that the last in-person contact he had with Onyango and Freeby was in February 2007, but student interns that worked for the department had called the couple about issues after that point.

The last phone conversation recorded in Mulligan's notes was on Dec. 3, 2007, six days before Onyango was reported missing.

Dydynsky asked Mulligan about Onyango's family members living in the United States, to which Mulligan responded with the attorney/client privilege.

Following testimony, Judge Nanovic said that he heard three areas where attorney/client privilege was invoked and told the defense they would have 10 days to respond if they were pursuing those issues further.

He then asked the defense to submit information pertinent to the case to District Attorney Gary Dobias, the prosecution, so he could prepare for the trial, which is slated for January.

The case against Freeby began in December 2007, after Onyango, 34, was reported by her brother to be missing on Dec. 9, 2007. She has not used her email account, bank account, credit card or car since then.

On Dec. 26, 2007, state police at Lehighton took over the case, which was changed from a missing person to a homicide after a search of Freeby's house on Jan. 17, 2008.

During the search, police found blood stains on the cellar stairs, cellar floor and in the coal bin.

Reports also said Freeby had spread the contents of the coal bin in his backyard and cleaned and painted portions of the basement recently; and lied to police about using Onyango's credit card and vehicle.

Onyango and Freeby met, and married in Allentown on March 20, 2001. Freeby later returned to Lansford, where he lived with his girlfriend and their three children. Onyango stayed in Allentown, where she worked for an older couple.

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