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Freeby credit card use examined

Published January 18. 2012 05:02PM

Testimony in the murder trial of a Lansford man in Carbon County court Tuesday centered on the use of a credit card issued to the victim.

Jurors heard from employees of businesses where the card was used.

There was also testimony from the father of the victim.

Ernest Troy Freeby, 36, is charged with criminal homicide and tampering with evidence. He is accused of killing his estranged wife, Edwina Atieno Onyango, 34, in the basement of his home at 207 W. Bertsch St., Lansford, on Dec. 9, 2007. Her body has never been found.

The family of Onyango, a native of Kenya, reported her missing on Dec. 10, 2007, after not hearing from her. Testimony from family members indicated Onyango was in contact with a family member on a daily basis. The last time she was heard from and seen was on Dec. 9, when she said she was going to Lansford to see Freeby.

Freeby has denied the charges. He admitted Onyango came to his home that day but said she left with another woman and that was the last he had seen her.

Fran Cerimele, manager of the Shell mini mart in Lansford (formerly a PennMart store), testified Tuesday.

Prosecutors said Onyango had a Capital One credit card and it was used on several occasions after she had been reported missing. Freeby at first denied knowledge of the credit card, but later said he did know of it but never had it.

Cerimele said Freeby used the card at the Lansford store on at least two occasions on Dec. 11, 2007.

Tammy Edmonds, who formerly worked for Koch's Farm Services in Walker Township, testified that Freeby used the card at that business on Dec. 12 to make a purchase.

Michael Fegley, owner of several area service centers, said the card was used at his Exxon station in Lehighton on Dec. 17 and 19.

Guideon Onyango, father of Edwina and a resident of Kenya, testified through an interpreter. Onyango does not speak English but the Dholou language. Joseph O. Asweto, of Washington, D.C., was hired by the district attorney's office to translate from Dholou to English.

Onyango said he had contact with his daughter, one of 10 children, at least once or twice a month. He said the contact ended in December 2007, when she was reported missing.

He said contact with her was either by phone or in writing. He said after he was told by his other children that Edwina was missing, he tried to call her but could not get her on the phone.

The trial was scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today with District Attorney Gary F. Dobias expected to call more witnesses, including state police experts in DNA anaylsis, as well as more experts in blood stains.

The trial will continue the rest of the week and will now go into a third week. The jury was selected on Monday, Jan. 9, and began hearing testimony on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

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