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Carbon murder trial set to begin

Published January 05. 2012 05:02PM

The murder trial of a Lansford man is scheduled to begin next Monday in Carbon County court.

A selection of a jury panel to hear the case of Ernest Troy Freeby, 36, is set to begin about 10 a.m. before President Judge Roger N. Nanovic. Freeby is charged with the murder of his estranged wife, Edwina Atieno Onyango. Her body has never been found.

Freeby was arrested on August 2009 with the murder and also with tampering with evidence. He has been in the county prison since his arrest.

The case has been winding through the system since Freeby's arrest. Various motions and petitions have been filed by Freeby's defense team, public defenders Paul Levy and George Dydynsky, and by prosecutor District Attorney Gary F. Dobias.

Freeby was arraigned on Oct. 31, 2009, and committed to the prison without bail. Bail is not set in murder cases and can only be imposed by the county court at the request of a defendant.

State police at Lehighton filed the charges, taking over the case from Lansford police.

The case began as a missing person investigation and turned into a homicide in January 2008 when police searched Freeby's home.

Onyango, 34, a native of Kenya, moved to the United States on Sept. 1, 1998. She was reported missing by her brother on Dec. 9, 2007. She had not used her email account, bank account, credit card or car since then.

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 children. Onyango stayed in Allentown where she worked for an older couple.

The commonwealth's case is based on a lot of forensic scientific evidence gathered at Freeby's home, and other evidence. Several hearings have been held on the various motions filed by defense attorneys and that of the DA's office, which furthered delayed the trial.

Seasoned court personnel expect the trial to last at least two weeks, or more, due to the numerous witnesses that will testify, including members of the victim's family, who will be brought to Carbon County from Kenya. There will also be many expert witnesses called by both sides.

The county commissioners recently approved the hiring of Joseph O. Asweto, of Washington, D.C., as interpreter of the Dholou language. He will interpret the testimony of family members and other evidence presented in the case.

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