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Appellate court refuses to reconsider Watertown man’s murder conviction

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A state appellate court has rejected a former Watertown man’s latest bid to appeal his double-murder conviction.

The state Appellate Division, Fourth Department, has denied Edundabira A. Ojo’s motion for writ of error coram nobis in which he claimed, among other things, that his appellate counsel was ineffective.

Ojo, 37, is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole at Attica Correctional Facility for stabbing to death sisters Kelly M. Exford, 22, and Shannon M. St. Croix, 24, at an apartment at 735 Cooper St. on April 1, 2005. He was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in Jefferson County Court in February 2006.

Ojo appealed the convictions to the Fourth Department, which affirmed the lower court’s judgment and sentence in a 2007 ruling. In his latest motion, Ojo contended that his appellate attorney failed to raise several alleged errors made by County Court in his case, exhibiting professional standards that fell below acceptable levels.

In his initial appeal, Ojo claimed, among other things, that the court should not have allowed into evidence testimony concerning prior threats and assaults he made against Miss Exford, as well as photographs of the crime scene. The appellate court rejected each of these contentions, saying the lower court “properly exercised its discretion” in allowing the evidence.

In his latest motion, Ojo maintained that his appellate attorney failed to raise issues related to seizure of his vehicle prior to his arrest, improper empaneling of a jury, effectiveness of his trial counsel and the claimed failure of County Court to follow statutory law. He contends that, had these issues been raised in the appeal, he would have won reversal of the convictions.

The appellate court did not provide its reasons for denying the error coram nobis motion, although the granting of such motions is considered rare.

Ojo still has a motion for a writ of habeas corpus pending in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, in which he is challenging whether he is being legally incarcerated. That motion contains allegations similar to those made to the appellate court.

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