of Appellate Courts Hennepin County
D. McGraw, McGraw Law Firm, P.A., Lake Elmo, Minnesota, for
Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Michael
O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Scott A. Hersey,
Special Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, Saint Paul,
Minnesota, for respondent.
district court did not abuse its discretion when it held that
appellant's claims were procedurally barred.
district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied
claim on the merits.
and decided by the court without oral argument.
GILDEA, CHIEF JUSTICE
Ndidiamaka Onyelobi was convicted of first-degree murder as
an accomplice. On direct appeal, we affirmed her conviction.
State v. Onyelobi (Onyelobi I), 879 N.W.2d
334 (Minn. 2016). Onyelobi then sought postconviction relief,
asserting several claims of error. The district court denied
her petition without a hearing. Because we conclude that each
of Onyelobi's claims is either procedurally barred or
fails on the merits, we affirm the district court.
was convicted of the murder of Anthony Fairbanks, under an
accomplice theory of liability. At the time of his death,
Fairbanks, his sister, and their mother were all heroin
addicts. A syndicate consisting of Onyelobi, her boyfriend
Maurice Wilson, and their friend David Johnson supplied
Fairbanks and his family with heroin.
month before the murder, Fairbanks and Wilson were indicted
as co-defendants for conspiracy to distribute heroin and
possession with intent to distribute heroin. Wilson was
arrested and placed in custody, but Fairbanks was not
day of Fairbanks' murder, Wilson called Onyelobi from
jail and asked if she and Johnson had "take[n]
care" of Fairbanks. When Onyelobi told Wilson that they
had not, Wilson replied that "[i]f they catch that dude,
I'm gone for the rest of my life." Onyelobi
reassured Wilson that she and Johnson would "take care
of it tonight" and that they had not yet done so because
"[h]e always with somebody." When Onyelobi passed
the phone to Johnson, Wilson warned him that "I go to
court Monday, man" and that he needed Johnson to
"be on top of that . . . ASAP."
that day, around 9:30 p.m., Fairbanks arrived at his
mother's apartment building. He informed his sister that
he was leaving to purchase heroin from Onyelobi, and his
mother heard him on the phone telling someone "[y]eah,
Bro, I'm comin' right now, and I'm alone. I'm
not coming with anybody. I'm by myself." Fairbanks
left his mother's apartment around 9:50 p.m. and started
walking southbound toward the location where his body was
before 10:00 p.m., a witness in a housing development about
two blocks from Fairbanks' mother's apartment heard
three gunshots. The witness looked out of a window and saw a
body lying on the side of the road as well as a running van
stopped nearby. The witness could not see how many people
were inside the van, and 5 to 10 seconds later it drove off
to the north. The witness called 911, and police arrived
shortly thereafter. Upon arrival, police discovered that
Fairbanks was dead after having been shot in the head four
times from a close distance.
the investigation into the murder, Onyelobi became a person
of interest. Police interviewed Fairbanks' mother and
learned of the 9:50 p.m. phone call. After obtaining
Fairbanks' cell records, police discovered that the phone
call was from 651-208-**** (the 208 number). Fairbanks's
sister told police that the 208 number belonged to Onyelobi
and that she and Fairbanks would call this number to purchase
heroin. In addition, police learned that Onyelobi was
Wilson's girlfriend, that Wilson was in custody for
crimes allegedly committed with Fairbanks, and that a van
registered in Onyelobi's name matched the description of
the van seen leaving the scene of the crime.
this information, police decided to locate Onyelobi and bring
her in for questioning. By using cellular data connected to
the 208 phone number and obtaining hotel records, police
determined that Onyelobi was staying at a Red Roof Inn in
Plymouth. Officers knocked on the door of Onyelobi's
hotel room and Johnson answered. From the door, officers
observed contraband. Officers entered the room, froze the
scene, and waited for a search warrant. Onyelobi, while not
present at first, arrived about 30 ...