Attorneys in social media star Courtney Clenney’s murder trial sparred in open court Thursday, with the sides accusing each other of leaking information to try and manipulate the media.
State prosecutors were incensed that attorneys, potential witnesses and the defendant’s parents had co-operated with the online celebrity website TMZ, which plans to air a show on Clenney’s travails in two weeks.
And Clenney’s attorneys were still seething over arrest warrants issued earlier this week that implicated them in the attempted break-in of a computer owned by the man Clenney is accused of murdering, her former boyfriend Christian “Toby” Obumseli.
“TMZ aired parts of these interviews as part of a teaser, so the damage has been done,” said Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Khalil Quinan.
“Quite frankly, I’m not going to sit by idly as they besmirch my reputation,” shot back defense attorney Frank Prieto.
When the bickering finally tapered off, state prosecutors fell short of asking Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Laura Shearon Cruz for a gag order. Instead, they just asked her to find a remedy. Cruz said she’d issue an opinion in writing on Tuesday.
The April 2022 stabbing death of 27-year-old Obumseli, allegedly at the hands of Clenney, 28, grabbed international headlines from the start. Young and attractive globetrotters who spent time in Las Vegas and Hawaii, they lived in a high-end condo on the bay in sun-splashed Miami. He sold crypto-currency. She was an OnlyFans model who boasted more than 2 million followers.
Four months after Clenney’s frantic April call to Miami Police saying her boyfriend had been stabbed, she was taken into custody in Hawaii and later extradited back to Miami. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office charged her with second-degree murder and said she stabbed Obumseli in the heart in their One Paraiso condominium after a heated argument.
Almost from the start, juicy tidbits from the couple’s relationship were entered as evidence during discovery and became public. Before the year ended in 2022, audio allegedly recorded by Obumseli detailed the toxicity in their relationship and their fights, some in which Clenney directed racial slurs at her Black boyfriend.
Around the same time, Clenney’s 911 call the day Obumseli was stabbed was released. In it, Obumseli can be heard calmly saying, “I can’t feel my arm. I can’t feel my arm. Then Clenney: “My boyfriend is dying of a stab wound. Baby, I’m so sorry.”
With so much negative information on their client being released, defense attorneys didn’t hold back in October 2023, when during an interview on Court TV, they told how texts between Clenney and Obumseli revealed that he had been sexually assaulted by his father when he was younger.
Then just this week, prosecutors essentially implicated Prieto and co-counsel Sabrina Puglisi in an arrest warrant for Clenney’s parents. The affidavit claimed a group chat was uncovered in which they all discussed how to figure out the PIN number to get into Obumseli’s computer.
Deborah Lyn Clenney, 57, and Kim DeWayne Clenney, 60, were taken into custody in Texas Tuesday and charged with illegally hacking into Obumseli’s computer. Courtney Clenney, who remains jailed in Miami, was charged with the same crime. Prieto and Puglisi were not charged.
Thursday, just outside the courtroom, the defense attorneys addressed the warrant and the implication. Prieto said he couldn’t explain why the charges were brought. Puglisi was more succinct.
“It’s unacceptable,” she said. “They’re now looking at private text messages.”