by Sam Levin
Olutosin Oduwole, a 27-year-old former Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student who was convicted of attempting a deadly mass shooting, was released from prison last week after an appeals court overturned his verdict. But this might not be the end of his legal troubles.
Prosecutors are now pushing to appeal the reversed decision.
"This case is a perfect example of everyone doing the right thing at the right time," Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons says in a statement requesting an appeal. "If it hadn't been for the brave and decisive actions of a firearms dealer and numerous law enforcement officers and agencies, our community may also have suffered the devastation of a mass killing, like the horrors experienced by the victims and community at Virginia Tech."
Gibbons wants to see the case go to the Illinois Supreme Court where a jury could restore the guilty verdict against the now freed man.
Oduwole was convicted by a Madison County jury in October of 2011 and sentenced two months later to five years in prison. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence of fifteen years.
At the center of the case was a note found in Oduwole's impounded car that said, in reference to a PayPal account:
If this account doesn't reach $50,000 in the next 7 days then a murderous rampage similar to the VT shooting will occur at another highly populated university, this is not a joke!
Prior to authorities finding that paper, Oduwole was already under investigation, based on a tip from a gun dealer that he had seemed overly anxious to buy four semi-automatic weapons.
After he was arrested, Oduwole and his attorneys argued that the note in question was just a draft of rap lyrics -- a defense that did not convince a jury, which found him guilty of making terrorist threats.
Continue for more details on a potential appeal and the full statement from Tom Gibbons.
"The jurors in this case weighed all of the evidence presented to them, and, after thorough deliberations, they determined that the defendant was a threat to the safety of Madison County and its residents," Gibbons says in his most recent statement, sent out last week. "They found beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant had taken substantial steps toward making a terrorist threat."
That conviction, however, was overturned earlier this month when a unanimous three-judge panel of an Illinois appellate court found insufficient evidence for a conviction.
In Gibbons' push for an appeal -- with a written request to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asking her to file a petition with the state Supreme Court -- he notes that police investigating the case found a loaded .25 caliber handgun in Oduwole's campus apartment, along with evidence that he had ordered three identical .380 caliber semi-automatic handguns and a .45 caliber semi-automatic firearm.
Gibbons notes that Oduwole had allegedly created a short video "containing even more explicit threatening language similar to the note."
The overturned conviction this month was separate from illegal gun charges against Oduwole -- for which he was convicted and has already served a year sentence.
Here's the full release from Gibbons.