Man sentenced to life in prison for Hollywood murder of Morro Bay native

June 7, 2017

Carrie Jean Melvin

A marijuana dispensary security guard and small business owner has received life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Carrie Jean Melvin, 30, who grew up in Morro Bay. [LA Times]

Ezeoma Obioha, 32, has insisted that he is innocent despite being convicted of first-degree murder. On Monday, Obioha showed no emotion during a contentious sentencing hearing in which the victim’s relatives spoke and Obioha’s sister stormed out of the downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

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 the trial, prosecutors said Obioha killed Melvin over a debt he owed her and because she spurned his romantic interest in her.

Prosecutors said Obioha owed Melvin money for marketing his clothing line on social media, and days before the murder, Obioha was notified that Melvin filed a claim with the state Labor Commission after his $1,620 check bounced.

The defense argued Obioha paid Melvin for the work, showing the jury a receipt for a $1,740 cash payment as proof.

Ezeoma Obioha

During the trial, the attorneys also clashed over the alleged murder weapon. The morning following the murder, a boy found a shotgun under a rock while playing on a beach in Malibu.

Prosecutors argued Obioha drove to Malibu following the shooting in order to dispose of the gun. The defense said the gun, as well as both shotgun shells, were planted evidence. Obioha, however, gave multiple explanations for what happened to his personal gun.

At the conclusion of the trial, 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.

On Monday, Bernard Melvin, the victim’s father, spoke during the sentencing hearing. He said telling his wife and relatives that his 30-year-old daughter was dead was the hardest thing he has ever done.

“I feel as though I have lost a limb,” Melvin said. “I have tried to answer my family’s questions, but how do you explain a completely senseless act? We cry every day.”

Bernard Melvin also said that after sitting through the trial and hearing the evidence, he is convinced that Obioha was the murderer. The victim’s father urged Obioha to accept the sentence.

Ryan, the older brother of Carrie Melvin, said Obioha’s insistence that he is innocent has compounded the family’s grief.

At one point during the sentencing hearing, Obioha’s sister, Nkechi Howell said, “Judge, you’re sending an innocent man to prison.”

Howell then rushed out of the courtroom. Following the hearing, Judge Robert J. Perry scolded Howell, saying her behavior was inappropriate.

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Condolences to the family of this beautiful woman. Their pain is unimaginable.

Lets see here, wasn’t this person seen shooting this woman, or was it a ghost.

Life in prison? wow, his life should be snuffed out immediately.

He SHOULD have been sentenced to death.