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Olutosin Oduwole Sentenced to five years in US for terrorist attempt
A judge on Wednesday gave a five-year prison sentence to the former Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student found guilty in October of attempting to make a terroristic threat.Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli said he never got an explanation from Olutosin Oduwole, 26, as to why he had guns if he planned no violence. He agreed with the jury verdict but was less harsh in the sentence after 22 letters in support of leniency for Oduwole were received.”I am very glad that he will be off our streets and out of our community,” State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said.
Gibbons said Oduwole will only have to serve half his sentence under an Illinois law that gives inmates credit for good conduct. He also will receive credit for the four months or so he has served in the county jail, his attorney Jeffrey Urdangen said.Urdangen disagreed with Tognarelli’s sentence but complimented the judge for being a thoughtful man.”The judge was under a lot of pressure to impose a prison sentence,” Urdangen said.
Oduwole faced up to 15 years in prison or probation for the terroristic threat conviction. He also received a $1,000 fine and a concurrent sentence of a year in jail on a misdemeanor weapons charge for having a loaded handgun in his apartment without permission from campus police.Prosecutors had asked for the maximum prison sentence and the defense had requested Oduwole only receive probation for the felony conviction.
Tognarelli said he did not think probation was appropriate because of public safety concerns and the seriousness of the offense.Oduwole will remain in the Madison County Jail for 15 days before being turned over to the Illinois Department of Corrections. Which state prison he will be sent to has yet to be determined.Following his sentencing, Oduwole pleaded guilty to felony theft and computer fraud charges related to a gun sale involving a Kirksville, Mo., man.
Oduwole received 30 months probation as part of a plea agreement that will also require him to repay the man $1,000.The judge denied defense motions to have Oduwole’s bond reinstated and to have the threat verdict overturned or a new trial granted. Oduwole’s bond was revoked immediately following the reading of the jury’s guilty verdicts in October.Tognarelli shared prosecutors’ fears that Oduwole could flee to Nigeria, where he is also a citizen. The judge also mentioned how Oduwole violated his bond in 2008 when he lied on a federal form in an attempt to buy a handgun while under indictment.Oduwole spoke briefly before the judge during his sentencing hearing but the speech was mostly inaudible to the audience.
But he could be heard saying one of his biggest regrets was that his songwriting had caused so much trouble. He also said the experience has taught him he needs to be more “conscious” of his words.The veracity of Oduwole’s word came under fire during his bond revocation hearing.Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Buckley introduced evidence that Oduwole had perjured himself Oct. 21, during his trial, when he attempted to obtain an Illinois driver’s license.
Through the testimony of an Illinois Secretary of State employee, Buckley showed that Oduwole lied about where he lived and hid the fact he already had a valid New York driver’s license.”Even when he was on trial he couldn’t stop lying,” Assistant State’s Attorney John Fischer said during Oduwole’s sentencing hearing. Urdangen said the defense plans to appeal the conviction and bond revocation, even though Oduwole will likely complete his prison sentence before his appeals are exhausted.
The defense will base their arguments on those already presented in court, including challenging the constitutionality of the threat law.The defense argued the threat was actually rap lyrics or rap themes, not a plan for a murderous rampage at SIUE.
They said these writings were Oduwole’s private thoughts protected by the First Amendment and not a threat that was ever communicated. Fischer argued the defense ignored the fact that Oduwole had a loaded gun in his campus apartment and was awaiting the delivery of more weapons in July 2007 when campus police discovered a note inside his disabled car threatening a murderous rampage similar to the Virginia Tech University massacre if $50,000 was not deposited into a PayPal account.
A deleted computer file found mid-trial by a police investigator and introduced into evidence by prosecutors contained a similar message.Urdangen said the defense will argue again that the file should have been excluded from evidence.
A woman who identified herself as Oduwole’s mother but refused to give her name was outraged by the verdict and the sentence. She blamed the all-white jury and called the county “racist.”"They never gave him a fair trial,” she said. “They lynched my son.”Urdangen had criticized the prosecution for having removed the sole African-American in the jury pool, which prosecutors said was done because the man said he would hold them to a higher standard than reasonable doubt.
But Urdangen was more critical of Gibbons for targeting his client’s First Amendment rights.”My beef is with the charge being brought in the first place,” Urdangen said.
Gibbons said the jury decided the credibility of the evidence. He credited law enforcement officers for helping to prevent an attack and save “countless lives.”"There was absolutely no racial element to this whatsoever,” he said.