A man accused of shooting and killing a woman on a Hollywood sidewalk over what officials believe was a financial dispute was charged with capital murder Tuesday.
Ezeoma Obioha, 31, entered a not guilty plea. He's accused of "lying in wait" and then killing 30-year-old Carrie Melvin while she was walking down a street near Sunset Boulevard and McCadden Place with her boyfriend on July 5. Obioha allegedly walked up behind Melvin, shot her once and walked to a parked car and drove away.
The killer wore some kind of mask covering his face. Outside court, prosecutor Craig Hum declined to discuss what specific evidence links Obioha to the crime.
Obioha's defense attorney said proving the killer's identity will be at issue.
"From what I know now, in speaking with Mr. Obioha, he's very eager for his day in court and very optimistic of his ability to show his innocence," said attorney Jovan Blacknell after the arraignment.
Although investigators were first unsure if it was a random attack or planned, they said Obioha was involved in a financial dispute with Melvin, over a bounced check he wrote to her. Authorities told the Los Angeles Times that Melvin was going to market Obioha's "hoodfellas" clothing through her social media company, but threatened to take him to court over the bounced check.
Obioha was arrested on suspicion of murder Friday night and held in lieu of $1 million bail, which was changed to a no bail hold by Judge Sergio Tapia at Tuesday afternoon's arraignment. Obioha is due back in court on August 31 for setting his preliminary hearing, which will determine if there is sufficient evidence for trial.
The special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and murdering for financial gain mean this could potentially be a death penalty case, though the DA's office has yet to make a determination whether to seek it, and California's imposition of the death penalty currently is enjoined by a court ruling.