NORFOLK — A Norfolk man who caused the overdose deaths of two women and raped a third after drugging her was sentenced Wednesday to two life sentences plus 20 years.
The term Norfolk Circuit Judge Tasha Scott handed down to 45-year-old Michael Ebong was the most she could give him under the law.
Ebong wasn’t in the courtroom when the sentence was pronounced. About a half-dozen deputies wrestled him out of the room and into a holding cell after he became disruptive. The courtroom was cleared and reopened a short time later.
Defense attorney Thomas Reed told the judge after the break Ebong didn’t want to return to the courtroom, and instead was left to listen to the proceedings through speakers in the holding cell.
“Mr. Ebong will always be too dangerous to be free,” Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott Miles told Scott in asking for the maximum sentence. “(He) will be just as dangerous at 70 as he is at 45 from what we saw today.”
Miles also pointed to a report written by a psychologist who determined Ebong’s chance of re-offending was “incredibly high.”
Ebong testified during Wednesday’s hearing and denied raping or drugging anyone. He also said he felt he had been “railroaded” by the court system and hadn’t been given “a fair shake.” Scott cut off his testimony after he repeatedly failed to answer the questions that had been asked of him, and he began to tussle with deputies as they tried to lead him back to the defense table.
A jury found Ebong guilty last year of two counts of involuntary manslaughter, rape, and object sexual penetration at the end of a five-day trial.
All three victims had gone to Virginia Beach bars with friends and suddenly disappeared, according to testimony at trial. Prosecutors alleged that Ebong targeted each woman, somehow slipped them some drugs and then took them to his Ocean View apartment to sexually assault them.
Kelsey Paton, 30, and Sheena West, 36, overdosed and died sometime after arriving, but the third woman survived and testified at trial. She also testified at Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.
The woman, who is not being identified by The Virginian-Pilot because she was the victim of a sexual assault, said she frequently has trouble sleeping, and when she does she often wakes up screaming. She rarely goes out to socialize anymore, she said, and is always checking the doors in her home to make sure they’re locked. She’s moved two times since the assault and was laid off from her job because she’d become so unproductive.
“Nothing’s ever going to be the same,” the woman testified. “My whole life stopped that day.”
According to testimony at trial, West was at Central Shore on Shore Drive on Nov. 14, 2020, when she disappeared. Prosecutors showed jurors surveillance video from the restaurant that night showing her leaving with a man they argued was Ebong. The next morning, Ebong called 911 to report an unresponsive woman and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
The next incident occurred in July 2021. Like West, Paton was out with friends when she disappeared. And just like in the West case, Ebong called 911 the next morning to report an unresponsive woman who was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Between those two incidents, Ebong took another women home in May 2021. The woman testified the last thing she remembered was being at Seaside Raw Bar at the Oceanfront with friends, and woke up the next day naked and extremely sick in a strange man’s apartment. She eventually persuaded the man, who she identified in court as Ebong, to take her home.
The woman didn’t report the incident until a couple of months later, when she saw a social media post about what happened to Paton. The post included photos of Ebong and his apartment.
Ebong was supposed to have been sentenced in December but the hearing was delayed after his lawyers informed the court he’d been growing increasingly delusional since being convicted, making it difficult for them to prepare. The judge ordered a competency evaluation and ordered the case continued.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Jane Harper, firstname.lastname@example.org