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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
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College Shooting Note Doesn’t Reveal Threat

MOUNT VERNON, Ill. (CN) - There is not enough evidence to support a conviction against a man who wrote about shooting up his college, an Illinois appeals court ruled.

Olutosin Oduwole, now 27, was charged in July 2007 after police found an alarming note in his apparently abandoned vehicle parked on campus at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville.

Tensions were high in Edwardsville as, just three months earlier, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 classmates and faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and then killed himself.

The note in Oduwole's car claimed that a similar rampage would follow at Edwardsville without a deposit of $50,000 into his PayPal account "in the next seven days."

Federal agents were already focused on Oduwole after a licensed gun dealer tipped them off about the student's recent purchase of four weapons and his apparently eager anticipation of their delivery.

After serving a search warrant on Oduwole's on-campus apartment at Edwardsville, investigators found a Jennings .25-caliber pistol in the student's closet dresser. He also had a cartridge for the gun under his bed.

Oduwole argued that he was an aspiring rap artist and his threatening words were simply song lyrics.

Jurors nevertheless convicted Oduwole in 2011 of making a terrorist threat and a weapons violation, and he was sentenced to five years.

The Fifth District for the Illinois Appellate Court found last week that there was insufficient evidence to uphold the felony threat conviction.

"On the continuum between preparation and perpetration, the acts cited by the state hover much closer to preparation," Judge Judy Cates wrote for a three-judge panel. "The cited acts do not place the defendant in dangerous proximity to success. The paper containing the alleged threats was discovered inside the plaintiff's locked vehicle. The paper was not displayed prominently. It was stuck underneath the center console. No stamps or envelopes were found inside the vehicle. ... The record reveals that there was no evidence that the defendant ever had a plan to disseminate it."

By this point, Oduwole has already served his one-year concurrent sentence for the misdemeanor weapons charge. He did not appeal that conviction or sentence.

Judges Melissa Chapman and Bruce Stewart concurred with Cates on the opinion.

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