A Nigerian businessman, Ezeoma Chigozie Obioha was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole during an emotional court hearing on Monday.
The 32-year-old was sentenced for the 2015 murder of a woman who was blasted in the face with a shotgun as she walked into a restaurant in Hollywood with her boyfriend.
While the sentencing was on, Obioha sat showing no emotion as Carrie Jean Melvin’s relatives told the court that her killing had upended their lives, ktla.com reported.
“I have tried to answer my family’s questions, but how do you explain a completely senseless act? We cry every day,” said her father, Bernard Melvin. “I had to hear and see things in the trial that no parent should have to hear.”
The victim’s older brother, Ryan, said Obioha’s insistence that he is innocent compounded the family’s grief. He said he experiences recurring nightmares about his sister’s murder.
In December 2016, after the conviction, Obioha’s attorney, Jamon Hicks, told reporters that he was “disappointed obviously” with the verdict and said that he believed the defense had done a “good job of showing that there was reasonable doubt in the case.”, Los Angeles Daily News had reported.
“This is a (case of) he wasn’t the one and that someone else did this, someone murdered her in a terrible fashion, but they got the wrong guy … I’ll always think that they have the wrong person. Our theme was that this was a rush to judgment,” the defense lawyer said.
Obioha’s sister, Nkechi Howell, said she was “devastated but not surprised” by the verdict.
“I have to be hopeful that the truth will come out and justice will be served. I know my brother didn’t do this. Our whole family knows that he’s innocent. Someone killed Carrie Melvin, but it wasn’t my brother and we have known that the entirety of this trial.”