June 21, 2024


The value of truth

Woman serving a lifestyle sentence will show up at Mitchell Hamline regulation

3 min read

The acceptance of Mitchell Hamline Faculty of Law’s latest scholar was such a large offer that Dean Anthony Niedwiecki wished to produce the news in-man or woman previous 7 days — on the grounds of the point out women’s prison in Shakopee.

Maureen Onyelobi

Maureen Onyelobi, who is serving a lifestyle sentence for murder with no opportunity of parole, will be the very first incarcerated scholar in the nation to show up at a legislation school accredited by the American Bar Affiliation.

“Probably the spotlight of my career,” Niedwiecki stated of their stop by. “She was just so stunned and just so psyched she did not even know what to say at first.”

Onyelobi, 36, aspired to go to law faculty just before she was arrested in 2014. Past calendar year, she became the very first girl to get the LSAT — the legislation college admissions examination — even though incarcerated.

To acknowledge her, St. Paul-based mostly Mitchell Hamline had to get a variance from the ABA that will enable her show up at courses entirely on line. Below that variance, the faculty can confess up to two incarcerated pupils each of the future 5 decades.

Niedwiecki stated Onyelobi “exceeded our minimum amount specifications of obtaining into legislation faculty, so it was not a near call.”

And whilst Onyelobi may well under no circumstances get out of jail, the dean is self-confident her education will gain herself and others.

“Knowledge is energy. If you can give them that expertise, then they can be much more productive advocates,” Niedwiecki claimed. “I also consider this is fantastic for our college students, for the reason that the pupils that are in the classroom are likely to be capable to listen to from anyone who’s a aspect of the method now.”

Donors and Mitchell Hamline scholarships will deal with her tuition, the college reported.

MURDER Scenario

Onyelobi had been offering heroin with her boyfriend, Maurice Wilson, and an additional male, David Johnson, when Wilson was arrested on federal drug expenses in March 2014, in accordance to courtroom documents.

Wilson later placed a cell phone get in touch with from jail to Onyelobi and Johnson, in which he urged them to “take treatment of” Anthony Fairbanks, who was Wilson’s co-defendant in the federal circumstance.

Afterwards that day, Onyelobi lured Fairbanks outside the house his Minneapolis residence, wherever Johnson shot and killed him.

A Hennepin County jury convicted Onyelobi as an accomplice to 1st-diploma murder, which carries a required sentence of daily life in jail with no opportunity of parole.

Johnson pleaded guilty to second-diploma murder and obtained a 40-calendar year prison sentence.

Onyelobi later argued she did not know Johnson was going to shoot Fairbanks, but the Minnesota Supreme Court docket upheld her conviction.

“A lot of occasions I’ll replay that night, but there is very little I can do. All I can do is shift ahead,” Onyelobi explained to WCCO-Tv set last yr. “All people justifies a next chance.”


The Minneapolis nonprofit All Square, which supports incarcerated people today, served make Onyelobi’s regulation faculty admission transpire. Its subsidiary, the Authorized Revolution, facilities the know-how of all those most impacted by the legislation and allows them to turn out to be brokers inside of it.

“From an absence of liberty comes an interest in mastering the legislation not out of curiosity, or as an tutorial work out, or strictly in pursuit of a profession,” Elizir Daris, a previous inmate and co-founder of the Legal Revolution, wrote in a column in the Hennepin County Bar Association’s publication. “Learning the rudiments of legislation is a critical automobile for freedom.”

Mitchell Hamline, which is acknowledged for its on the net, night time and weekend classes, also has led quite a few initiatives that assistance the incarcerated, including a clinic that helps individuals as they’re produced from custody.

“This may only be a person human being, but this is a single person opening the doorway for so numerous others,” Niedwiecki said. “That cumulative influence is likely to be significant for our justice technique in Minnesota, and I hope we’re not the last college that does this.”

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