Man convicted of Hollywood murder of woman from Morro Bay

December 15, 2016
Carrie Jean Melvin

Carrie Jean Melvin

A Los Angels jury convicted a marijuana dispensary security guard and small business owner for the murder of Carrie Jean Melvin, 30, who grew up in Morro Bay. Ezeoma Obioha, 32, is now facing the possibility of receiving life in prison without parole. [LA Times]

In July 2015, Melvin was walking with her boyfriend near Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood when a gunman walked up behind them, fired one round into Melvin’s face and fled.

During a downtown Los Angeles trial, prosecutors said Obioha killed Melvin over a debt he owed her and because the woman spurning his romantic interest in her.

Deputy district attorney Michele Hanisee told the jury that Obioha owed Melvin money for marketing his clothing line on social media. Days before the murder, Obioha was notified that Melvin filed a claim with the state Labor Commission after his $1,620 check bounced. The payment was said to be compensation for 87 hours of work she did.

“She gave him a smack down,” Hanisee said. “She rejected and challenged him.”

Defense attorney Jamon Hicks argued Obioha had paid Melvin for the work. As proof, Hicks showed the jury a receipt for a $1,740 cash payment, which he said Obioha’s sister found after her brother’s arrest.

At the scene of the shooting, police recovered a white Rio Royal Grand 12-guage oo-buck shell with a “” headstamp. The next morning, a boy found a Mossberg 12-guage shotgun under a rock while playing on the beach in Malibu. A white Rio Royal shell stamped “” was lying beside the gun, and the shotgun’s serial number showed it was registered to Obioha, Hanisee said.

Ezeoma Obioha

Ezeoma Obioha

The prosecution argued Obioha drove to Malibu following the shooting in order to dispose the gun.

The defense said the gun, as well as both shotgun shells, were planted. Obioha’s attorneys also argued a blast from a Rio Royal shell would have caused more wounds to Melvin’s face.

Hanisee said Obioha gave different explanations about what happened to his gun during jail phone calls with his family.

First, Obioha said it was stolen. Then, he said Melvin’s boyfriend took it to set him up. Finally, he said an ocean photographer planted it to get his Instagram and Facebook accounts featured on the news, Hanisee said.

Obioha’s mother, Pauline Obioha, testified that her son was at home on the night of the murder. She helped him bathe his two children before he put them to bed, Pauline Obioha said.

When asked, Pauline Obioha said she would not lie for any of her kids.

Hanisee said during closing arguments that Obioha’s family lied and fabricated evidence to protect him. Hanisee said the family fabricated the $1,740 receipt for Obioha’s payment to Melvin.

On Tuesday, jurors convicted Obioha of first-degree murder, as well as an enhancement for committing murder for financial gain. Jurors reached the verdict after one day of deliberation.

When the verdict was read, Obioha stared expressionless. His sister’s eyed widened, and she mouthed, “what?”

Melvin’s father, Bernard Melvin, closed his eyes and cried quietly into his hands. Bernard Melvin said outside the courtroom he hoped people would remember his daughter. He also said he felt great compassion for the defendant’s family.

“There’s nothing to celebrate here,” Bernard Melvin said. “I lost my daughter, and a young man is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. That’s nothing to celebrate.”

Obioha’s attorney, Jamon Hicks, said his client was saddened and hurt by the verdict. Hicks said he plans to file an appeal.

“They got the wrong guy,” Hicks said. “He didn’t do it.”

Hick said Obioha always came to court with a big stack of papers from the copious research he did on the case.

“I’ve never had such an engaged client in my life,” Hicks said. “To me that was a sign of an innocent man.”

Obioha’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 5.

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Sorry, under Prop. 57 and realignment he’ll be out in a few years.

She was down with the brothas and down with the cause. Growing up in little Morro Bay did not prepare her to be part of this crowd.