First of three in murder conspiracy found guilty

Friday, November 14, 2014

A jury convicted Maureen Ndidiamaka Onyelobi of aiding and abetting first-degree premeditated murder in a Minneapolis shooting related to a federal drug investigation, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

The jury returned the verdict late Wednesday afternoon after three hours of deliberations. Onyelobi, 29, of Minneapolis will be sentenced Friday morning to life in prison without parole.

According to the criminal complaint and testimony in the week-and-a-half trial, Anthony Fairbanks, 23, of Minneapolis was at his mother’s house and was heard talking on his cell phone just before 10 p.m. on March 8, telling someone on the other end that he was coming alone.

At 9:58 p.m., a witness heard multiple gunshots and saw a dark-colored van with white stripe and cargo top drive away from the area of Longfellow Avenue and 28th Street East. Police found Fairbanks dead in the street and four cartridge casings around him.

Police checked Fairbanks and found the phone number of the person he was speaking to at 9:51 p.m. One of Fairbanks’ friends recognized the number as belonging to “Black” who provided Fairbanks with heroin. Black was identified as Onyelobi.

Three days later, Onyelobi was arrested on a drug charge and her cell phone was seized. While waiting in a Minneapolis police interview room, Onyelobi was seen trying to hide a small key in an electrical outlet. Police took the key and traced it to a Plymouth storage locker, where the murder weapon was recovered. They also determined that Onyelobi owned a van that matched the description of the one seen leaving the murder scene.

During the investigation, police learned that Fairbanks had recently been indicted in a federal drug case along with Onyelobi’s boyfriend, Maurice Wilson. Police went back and listened to jail calls between Wilson and Onyelobi on March 8 in which Wilson said he was worried about a man from the projects who might talk to police. Wilson discussed how he wanted that man “taken care of.” Fairbanks lived in the Little Earth housing project. Video at the storage locker shows Onyelobi arriving there at 9:03 p.m. to get the gun and returning it the next morning.

In June, a Hennepin County Grand Jury indicted Wilson, Onyelobi and David Johnson in Fairbanks’ murder. Johnson’s trial is scheduled for Jan. 26. Wilson remains in federal custody on the drug charges and no date has been set for his murder trial.