NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The jury trial began Monday in Norfolk for a man accused of killing two women over an eight-month period.
Michael Ebong is charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He also faces other felony charges, including a charge of raping a woman.
36-year-old Sheena West was found dead in Ebong’s Norfolk apartment in November 2020. 30-year-old Kelsey Paton was found dead in the same apartment in July 2021.
The medical examiner said both women died of drug overdoses.
Earlier this year, Ebong entered a not guilty plea to all of the charges.
Day one of the trial started out with seating a jury and then went into opening statements after a lunch recess.
Commonwealth Attorneys started off by telling the jury there’s “complicated evidence” in the case because they’ll be presenting evidence from three different events.
Prosecutors said they’ll present DNA, cell phone data, autopsy, witness testimony and professional testimony. They also said all of the victims are in their thirties and all went to bars at the Oceanfront on a Saturday night where prosecutors say they met Ebong.
Prosecutors also went on to say the woman who accused Ebong of raping her will take the stand during the trial to explain the experience and why she didn’t go to the police right away.
They also went on to say they’ll prove that Ebong’s DNA was recovered from intimate parts of their body. In closing, attorneys for the Commonwealth say they believe Ebong lured them to his apartment in Ocean View, drugged them and raped them.
Public defenders for Ebong started off by saying this case was about him and that the Commonwealth is trying to try three cases together. They also asked the jury to take a step back and review all of the evidence and cases individually, instead of as one big case.
Defense attorneys also say Ebong had sex with the three women in the three separate cases, but they say the question they feel the Commonwealth won’t be able to answer is how the victims ingested the drugs found in their system.
The medical examiner determined West died of a drug overdose, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. The medical examiner originally classified West’s death as an accidental overdose, but Norfolk police later charged Ebong with murdering her.
Three witnesses for the Commonwealth took the stand Monday, mainly testifying about the process investigators took to get access to data from Ebong’s phone.
Attorneys for the Commonwealth presented photos to a former detective from the Norfolk Police Department who specialized in mobile consumer electronic device extraction. He testified that photos found on Ebong’s phone were discovered when investigators ran a report on his phone following his arrest.
Prosecutors say Ebongs phone contained multiple non-consenting photos of two of the women in compromising positions.
According to data from his phone, the sets of photos were taken on two separate dates: May 23, 2021, and June 11, 2021. The date in May is the day the alleged rape took place between Ebong and an unnamed woman. The June date correlates to one of the second-degree murder charges.
The Commonwealth will present more witnesses in Norfolk Circuit Court Tuesday, with the case expected to last as long as next Monday.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.