The People of the State of
Opening Statements, held at the Jefferson County Court Complex, 163 Arsenal
St., Watertown on Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Opening Statement by Kristyna S. Mills, Esq., Chief Assistant District Attorney
Mrs. Mills: May it please the Court. Defense Counsel.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Thank you very much for your patience
during the course of the last two days. We really appreciate your candor
and your honesty. Jury selection is a very, very important part of our
process. And I speak on behalf of both Mrs. Intschert and myself when I
say thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, during the early morning hours of April 2nd, 2005,
Shannon St. Croix clocked out of her job at Friendly's Restaurant and was
driven by a friend to 735 Cooper St. in the City of Watertown where her sister
may have been babysitting.
She left her friend in the vehicle and entered the dark house. She never
came back out. The friend, Andre Watson, who was waiting in the car for
Shannon, saw an individual exit the residence and leave the area.
Mr. Watson waited several minutes for Shannon's return. When she didn't
return, he went to check her. He entered the dark house and saw her lying
in the doorway leading to the residence from the front porch. He
attempted to see if she was alive by nudging her foot with his. He saw no
After unsuccessfully attempting to find a light switch, he went across the
street to call 911. When the police responded, they found Shannon St.
Croix laying in the doorway with her eyes open and her face covered in blood.
Then they found Kelly Exford, Shannon's sister, lying face down in the living
room. Upon rolling her over, they discovered that her throat had been
slit and she, too, was covered in blood.
The defendant, Edundabiro Ojo, has been accused by the Jefferson County Grand
Jury as being the perpetrator of those crimes. He currently stands
charged with three counts of Murder in the First Degree. And those are
basically based on different theories of the case. He is further charged
with two different counts of Murder in the Second Degree, two counts of Assault
in the First Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree.
With regard to the top count of Murder in the First Degree, to simplify the
Indictment, we are alleging that the defendant, being more than 18 years old,
and with the intent to cause the death of Kelly Exford, caused Kelly's death by
stabbing her multiple times about the head, neck and body, and as part of the
same criminal transaction, and with intent to cause either serious physical
injury or death to Shannon St. Croix, caused Shannon's death by stabbing her
multiple times about the head, neck and body.
We are further alleging that Shannon was not a participant in the criminal
transaction. In other words, Shannon had nothing to with her
sister's death, and certainly wasn't a willing participant in her own death.
For the second count of Murder in the First Degree, we are alleging that the
defendant, again, being more than 18 years old, with the intent to cause
Shannon's death, did so by stabbing her. And as a part of the same
criminal transaction, with intent to either seriously injure or cause Kelly's
death, caused Kelly's death by stabbing her. Again, in that count we are
alleging that Kelly was not a participant in the criminal transaction.
She had nothing to do with Shannon's death, and she certainly was not a willing
participant in her own death.
The third count of Murder in the First Degree is what is referred to as witness
elimination murder. We are alleging that the defendant, again, being over
the age of 18, and with the intent to cause the death of Shannon St. Croix,
caused her death by stabbing multiple times and did so because she was a
witness to the defendant's involvement in the murder of Kelly Exford, and he
wanted to prevent her from being able to testify against him in any future
With regard to the two counts of Murder in the Second Degree, we are alleging
that the defendant, with the intent to cause the death of Kelly Exford, did so
by stabbing her, and further that the defendant, with the intent to cause the
death of Shannon St. Croix, did so by stabbing her.
As to the counts alleging Assault in the First Degree, we are alleging that the
defendant, with the intent to cause serious physical injury to Kelly Exford,
did so by stabbing her repeatedly, causing, among other injuries, deep
incisions on both sides of her neck, slicing major blood vessels, completely
severing her trachea, her carotid artery and her jugular veins.
With regard to Shannon, we are alleging that the defendant, with the intent to
cause her serious physical injury, did so by stabbing her repeatedly, causing a
partial severe injury to her right carotid artery, a stab wound to her lung,
and deep incisions of the fingers and palm on her right hand.
We are also alleging that the defendant caused injuries to Kelly's hands as
As to the count alleging Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree,
we are charging that the defendant possessed a knife which is a dangerous
instrument or deadly weapon, and with the intent to use that knife unlawfully
against Kelly Exford and/or Shannon St. Croix.
We are alleging that all of these events took place on or about the first or
second day of April in 2005, the City of Watertown, Jefferson County, State of
Ladies and gentlemen, the Judge is going to instruct you during the course of
the trial that the defendant is presumed innocent and remains innocent
throughout the trial until such time as the People prove him guilty beyond a
This is a burden that the prosecution readily accepts. We harbor no doubt
that at the conclusion of the evidence in this case, you will have found the
defendant has been stripped of his presumption of innocence and stands
before you guilty of his crimes he is charged with.
To prove this case, ladies and gentleman, the People intend to call a multitude
of witnesses who will provide you with all of the evidence required to find the
defendant guilty. Initially we expect to call Andre Watson, the friend
who dropped Shannon St. Croix off at 735 Cooper Street. I submit that he
is going to tell you that he picked Shannon up at Friendly's Restaurant after
her shift on the night in question.
I believe you will hear from witnesses who worked with Shannon at Friendly's as
to what time she clocked out and what time she actually left the restaurant.
I anticipate that Mr. Watson will tell you that he drove Shannon over to Cooper
Street in the City of Watertown. I believe that he will tell you that
Shannon got out of the car and entered the dark house. He waited
for her in his vehicle.
I believe he will tell you that after a while, a person exited the same door
Shannon had gone in and left the scene in a hurried manner.
He will tell you that the person was wearing a desert camouflage coat with the
hood up, dark pants and was carrying a black book bag type bag.
I anticipate he will tell you that when Shannon did not return to the vehicle,
he went in to check on her. He will tell you, ladies and gentleman, that
he got as far as the door from the front porch into the house when he
discovered Shannon's body's laying on the floor. He will tell you that he
could only see her legs and could not see into the darkened house.
I anticipate that he will explain to you that he attempted to get her
attention, but got absolutely no response. I expect him to tell you that
he tried to find a light switch by reaching through the door of the residence,
but was unsuccessful. He ran across the street and called 911.
I anticipate, ladies and gentlemen, that you will next hear from a number of
police officers who were first responders at the scene that evening. I
expect them to tell you that upon entering the house, they found bloody
footprints on the carpet of the porch leading out of the residence. I
expect that you will hear later testimony that those bloody footprints could
not have been made by Andre Watson.
I anticipate that the officers will explain how they found Shannon's body in
the doorway of 735 Cooper Street, that she was lying face up with her eyes
opened and appeared to be covered in blood.
I expect them to tell you that they saw the body Shannon's sister, Kelly Exford,
lying in the living room, face down. I believe they will tell you that
when the paramedics rolled her over, there were no obvious signs of life in
Kelly. That she, too, was covered with blood with her eyes fixed
open. And there appeared to be a massive amount of blood on the floor
where her head was laying.
I anticipate that they will tell you that they could see that her throat had
been sliced open.
I next anticipate that you will hear from various medical personnel who
responded to the scene that evening. I submit that they will tell you,
ladies and gentlemen, that there were no signs of life in either Kelly or
Shannon when the responded. I anticipate that they will briefly tell you
about some of the stab wounds that they observed on the girls that night.
I anticipate, ladies and gentlemen, that you will next hear from witnesses who
will provide you with some background regarding the nature of the relationship
between Kelly Exford and the defendant, Edundabiro Ojo. I believe they
may be able to tell you about the defendant's relationship with Shannon as
I expect you will hear from several witnesses who had contact with the
defendant on the night in question. I anticipate that you will hear from
April Ostrom, who will tell you that she was friends with the defendant, and
saw him between 10:30 and 11:00 on April 1st, 2005.
I anticipate that she will tell you that he was wearing a tight black long
sleeve shirt, black pants and light brown Timberland type boots.
I expect her to tell you that the defendant left her residence briefly to buy
her some cigarettes. I anticipate that you will hear that he went to the
Sunoco A-Plus to make that purchase, and while there, he saw Jennifer Hall,
another friend of his. Jennifer will also testify and describe for you
what the defendant was wearing on the night in question.
You will hear that the defendant returned to April Ostrom's house and left a
short time later. Jennifer Hall, I expect, will tell you that she called
the defendant on his cell phone around midnight. I believe she will tell
you that the defendant stated that he wouldn't meet her out, as he was talking
to a loved one.
I anticipate that Jennifer will tell you that she attempted to call the
defendant later that evening but got no answer on his cell phone.
I believe she will tell you that she next spoke to him the following day, and
he indicated that he had learned of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Kelly
Exford and her sister, but was not upset, because the military prepared him for
I expect that you will hear from Benjamin Ackridge. I anticipate that he
will tell you that the defendant came to his house in the City of Rome during
the early morning hours of April 2md, 2005. I believe he will tell you
that the defendant was bleeding from a cut on his hand. I anticipate he
will tell you that the defendant admitted to him that he stabbed Kelly Exford
and then stabbed Shannon St. Croix because she walked in on him when he was
leaving the scene.
I further anticipate that he will tell you that the defendant borrowed some
clothes from him and threw away the black long sleeved shirt he was wearing in
Mr. Ackridge's garbage.
I anticipate that you are going to hear testimony from Dennis Cooper who
works with the State Police Forensic Investigation Unit who is going to tell
you that he recovered that black long sleeve shirt from the garbage of Mr.
Ackridge and sent it to the lab for analysis.
I further anticipate that you will hear from the defendant's fiancee at the
time, Kelly Kenta. I anticipate that she will tell you that when the
defendant returned to her house from Rome on April 2nd, 2005, he told her that
he had stabbed Kelly repeatedly and slit her throat. She will tell you
that the defendant told her that prior to slicing Kelly's throat, she pleases
with him, stating that she would be with him and that she loved him.
I anticipate that she will tell you that the defendant then told her that he
was about to leave when Shannon started to come in the door. I believe
that she will tell you that he put his hand on the door and attempted to block
Shannon from coming in. Then I anticipate that she will tell you that he
let Shannon in the door and started stabbing her. I expect that she will
tell you that the defendant told her that Shannon also pleaded with him to stop
because she had children.
I anticipate that she will tell you that when Shannon went limp, the defendant
exited the residence and left after seeing someone in a car outside.
Ladies and gentlemen, I ask that you listen to these witnesses very
carefully. We are not asking that you believe what they say on blind
faith. Compare what they are saying with all of the other testimony that
you hear in this case. Compare what they are saying with the physical
evidence that you receive during the course of the case.
I believe that if you do, you will find what they are telling you is supported
by the other witnesses as well as the physical evidence collected in connection
with this case.
I anticipate that if you do carefully analyze what there witnesses are telling
you, you will come to the undoubted conclusion that they are speaking the truth
about what the defendant told them.
We will then put on statements, ladies and gentlemen, the defendant gave to
police officers when they interviews him about the events in question.
I expect Detective Joseph Donoghue of the Watertown City Police Department to
tell you that the defendant admitted to picking up Kelly Exford that evening at
her house on Mill Street. I anticipate that he will tell you that the
defendant drover her to 735 Cooper Street, as she was babysitting a child that
I anticipate that Detective Donoghue will tell you that when he told the
defendant that Benjamin Ackridge and Kelly Kenta told the police that he had
killed the girls, the defendant nodded his head, agreeing with what Detective
Donoghue was saying.
I anticipate Detective Donoghue will tell you that the defendant inquired as to
what charges he would be facing, what prison he would be going to, and asked
whether or not he would be able to grow his hair long.
The detectives then asked the defendant about the knife, indicating that they
were concerned that a child or a member of the public would find it and injure
themselves. The defendant told detectives that only a vagabond would be
apt to find it, and that it would not be around in a day or two, and that it
was about 45 minutes outside the City of Watertown.
Next you will hear from Watertown Police Department's Identifications Officers
and members of the State Police Forensic Investigation Unit. Officers
Vance Trapp and Officer Chris Cush of the Watertown City Police Department will
tell you that they swabbed some blood on the outside of the exterior door at
the scene of the crime. They will tell you that it was ultimately
forwarded to the lab for analysis and comparison.
They will also tell you that they collected the boots that defendant was
wearing when he was being questioned at the police station. I believe
that you will learn that these were also sent to the lab for comparison with
the bloody footprints.
State Police Investigator Adrian Grenier will tell you about his training in
blood splatter analysis and what he could tell from the scene of the crime as
to how these girls died.
I believe he will tell you about various items of evidence collected during the
investigation, including a Pepsi bottle that was found on the coffee table at
the scene of the crime. I anticipate you will then hear from Investigator
Musco Millner with the Forensic Investigations Unit that the defendant's
fingerprints were on that Pepsi bottle.
I anticipate that you will also hear from various individuals from the New York
State Police Crime Lab in Albany, New York. You will hear from Gary
Veeder that he compared the defendant's boots with the prints left behind at
the scene. I anticipate that he will tell you that the defendant's boots
were the same size and had the same treadwear pattern as those bloody
footprints left at the scene of the crime.
I further anticipate that you will hear from Urfan Mukhtar who works as a
Forensic Scientist in the DNA selection of the Albany lab. He will tell
you that the shirt collected from the garbage at Benjamin Ackridge's house was
covered in Shannon and Kelly's blood.
I anticipate that he will further tell you that the defendant's vehicle seized
during the investigation had Shannon St. Croix's blood in it. I believe
he will tell you that the blood swab taken from the exterior part of the door
contained the defendant's DNA. He will also tell you that the swab from
the lip of the Pepsi bottle contained the defendant's DNA.
I also expect that you will hear from Dr. Samuel Livingstone, the Medical
Examiner for Jefferson County. I anticipate that he will tell you he
performed the autopsies on Kelly Exford and Shannon St. Croix. I expect
him to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that Kelly was stabbed in excess of 20
times, and Shannon was stabbed in excess of 30 times.
I anticipate that he will tell you that Kelly suffered two deep lacerations to
her neck, severing her carotid artery, her jugular veins and her trachea.
I anticipate he will tell you that Shannon suffered several stab wounds about
her face and neck, that the fatal wound extend through her mouth seven inches
down to the inside of her neck, partially severing her carotid artery. I
anticipate he will describe for you the extensive defensive wounds that both
girls suffered to their hands.
Ladies and gentlemen, I anticipate that at the close of his testimony, you will
have no question that the deaths that these girls suffered were intentional,
Ladies and gentlemen, I ask that you ask yourselves this question during the
course of the trial: What did these girls do to possibly deserve the death that
I submit to you that you will find that answer is nothing. They were
people, they were friends, they were employees, they were moms. And the
defendant took that away from them.
He admitted stabbing them. He admitted it to Benjamin Ackridge, he admitted
it to Kelly Kenta, he admitted to the police. They found Kelly and
Shannon's blood on his shirt, Shannon's blood in his car, and his blood at the
I submit that at the close of this trial, you, too, will have no doubt as to
the defendant's guilt of this crime. And I ask that at the close of this
trial, you return a verdict of guilty to each and every count.