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Woman testifies she saw victim twice after Onyango went missing

Published January 27. 2012 05:02PM

A Lehigh County woman told a Carbon County jury in the murder trial of a Lansford man, that she saw the alleged victim at least twice since the day she was reported missing.

Doris Meitymer was called by defense attorney Paul Levy Thursday morning on the 13th day of the murder trial of Ernest Troy Freeby, 36, who is charged with killing his estranged wife, Edwina Atieno Onyango, 36, on Dec. 9, 2007, in the basement of his home at 207 W. Bertsch St. Onyango's body has never been found.

State police charged Freeby killed Onyango, who is a native of Kenya, and disposed of her body.

Meitymer told the jury she is employed at Express Cash of Whitehall, a cash checking business which also offers Western Union service.

She said she knew Freeby and Onyango from coming into the business to cash their paychecks from a local McDonald's Restaurant.

She said she first met Freeby in 2001 and was introduced to Onyango in 2004. Freeby introduced her as his wife.

Meitymer then said she learned of the case with Onyango and Freeby by watching television reports and reading the newspaper.

She said sometime after that, between 2008 and 2009, she saw Onyango at least twice. She said Onyango came into the check cashing business one day with another black woman. She said she was "shocked" to see her alive, thinking she had been killed.

Under questioning by District Attorney Gary F. Dobias, Meitymer said she learned about the incident in December 2007 from news reports.

Dobias asked why she never called police the day she saw Onyango, knowing she was reported missing and that Freeby was a suspect in the case. Meitymer said she was too busy at work to stop and call police. She said after work it just "slipped her mind" to call police. She said she never told police but told a private investigator working for the defense.

She said she gave a written statement to the investigator at one of three interviews she had with him. She said she read it and signed it.

Dobias asked about a letter sent to Trooper William Maynard, one of the lead investigators in the case, and defense attorney George Dydynsky in which it was stated that she knew nothing about the case except what she saw on TV and read in the paper.

The letter also stated that the private investigator put words in her mouth.

Meitymer claimed that her manager sent the letter after Maynard had spoken to the both of them at work. She added she never read the letter and said it wasn't true. She admitted calling Maynard after the letter was sent to see if he got it.

Immigration issue

Attorney Dennis Mulligan, who specializes in immigation law and who heads a firm that helps individuals with immigation problems, testified Thursday afternoon.

He said he met Freeby and Onyango at his office in Philadelphia in June 2006. He said Onyango was seeking help with a immigation problem she was having, which was serious. She was facing deportation and needed his help.

He said he explained what had to be done and what forms would have to be filled out to fight the deportation and also for her to get a green card to remain in the country.

He said he was never told that Onyango was HIV positive and that she lied on her application when she stated her father was dead, when he was not. He said having such a health problem would probably have impacted her application.

Mulligan also said Freeby filled out a petition as her husband to help her get legal status in the country.

He said he sent Freeby's petition to the proper authorities on Aug. 16, 2006. He said he was notified on May 30, 2007, the petition was accepted.

Mulligan then explained the various steps that had to be taken to continue Onyango's quest to stay in the country. He said an application was filed by Onyango three times and all were rejected. He said the first was rejected on a technicality, which was the fault of his office. The second was rejected over a dispute of a filing fee. He said he felt another fee should not have been requested because the first rejection was due to the technicality.

Mulligan said he knew of children Freeby had living with him and knew the two were not living together.

Mulligan also said he told Freeby to put Onyango's name on the deed to his house because it would help in showing that the marriage was not an attempt just to get a green card.

Under cross examination by Dobias, Mulligan said that Onyango's application was rejected in February 2008 because she did not show up for the hearing. He said he lost contact with both Onyango and Freeby in December 2007. He said he sent a letter informing Onyango of the February hearing on Dec. 2, 2007.

He also said he only met with Freeby and Onyango twice in person.

Mulligan finished his testimony about 4:20 p.m. President Judge Roger N. Nanovic then recessed until 9 a.m. today.

The trial is now expected to end early next week.

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