A judge on Friday ordered three men held without bail on charges of murdering 49-year-old Freddy Akoa and leaving his body in his Cumberland Avenue apartment.
Authorities won’t say how Akoa died or what motive the suspects who were arrested on Thursday would have to kill him.
Each suspect – Abil Teshome, 23, Osman Sheikh, 31, and Mohamud Mohamed, 36 – was brought individually before Justice Thomas Warren in Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland on Friday. Each man had a lawyer with him, and answered only yes or no questions – whether the judge had pronounced his name correctly and whether he understood the charge of murder.
The only new detail to emerge in the case is that Akoa died on Sunday. His body remained in his second-floor apartment at 457 Cumberland Ave. for two days before a property manager went inside to check on him at his mother’s request.
Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, who is prosecuting the cases, asked the judge at the start of Friday’s hearings to seal the case files against each of the three men from public view for one week as investigators continue to compile evidence in the murder investigation.
Warren granted Alsop’s motion with the condition that if the prosecution doesn’t file an extension between now and next Friday, the cases against the men will become public, including the detailed affidavits police filed to obtain arrest warrants against each man.
Each suspect is listed in official records as a transient with no fixed address, but each of them appeared in court in dress clothes. Teshome stood first with attorney Alison Meyers wearing a white shirt and striped tie. After he left, Sheikh came into the courtroom with a blue button-down shirt with a spread collar, next to attorney Verne Paradie. Mohamed was brought in last, wearing a white shirt and plaid tie, and stood next to attorney Dylan Boyd.
Warren read the charge against each of them, telling them they are accused of murder by “depraved indifference,” but postponed any possible bail arguments until a later date at the request of the defense attorneys.
The prosecutor and the defense attorneys declined to answer any questions from the media as they left the courtroom.
Teshome, Sheikh and Mohamed were not required to enter a plea at the hearing since the charge against them is a felony. The next step in the proceeding will be for prosecutors to present the case against them to a Cumberland County grand jury seeking an indictment.
No one from Akoa’s family appeared in court for the hearing, but his brother Benoit Akoa emailed a picture of Freddy Akoa and released a statement.
“Freddy was a very kind and loving person. Freddy did not deserve to be the victim of such acts of violence, no one deserves that. We, his brothers sisters and parents will miss him dearly. This was a senseless and violent crime and we trust in the system, that justice will prevail,” Benoit Akoa said in the email.
Francis Swash, who said he is acting as a spokesman for the extended Akoa family, said Freddy Akoa’s mother and other relatives will share more about his life at a later date but are not prepared to talk now.
“They are simply grieving and trying to make funeral arrangements,” Swash said in a phone call Friday afternoon.
Civil court records indicate that Freddy Akoa lived alone. He has been divorced since 2012 from Maria Ferreira.
Akoa had no record of criminal convictions, according to a database maintained by the Maine Department of Public Safety, but his alleged killers all do.
Sheikh has 33 criminal convictions, mostly public order crimes such as criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and drinking in public, according to the State Bureau of Identification.
Teshome’s criminal record includes convictions for drinking in public and theft.
Mohamed has only one conviction on his record from June for drinking in public.
If convicted of murder, each of the men face a minimum of 25 years and up to life in prison.