On Wednesday morning, Courtney Clenney pleaded not guilty before a Miami-Dade judge to one count of second degree murder with a weapon in the death of her boyfriend, Christian Obumseli, who died from a single stab wound earlier this year in the couple’s Miami apartment. Clenney is being held without bond.
In the days following Obumseli’s April 3 death, Clenney admitted through her lawyer, Frank Prieto, to killing Obumseli, but said she acted in self-defense. Clenney was detained and questioned by the police the night of the stabbing, then Baker-acted, meaning committed for mental health treatment, because police believed she might harm herself, Prieto told Rolling Stone. She was released less than 48 hours later and left the state to go home to Texas with her parents.
As word got out about the stabbing, a public outcry began on social media that Clenney, a white woman and a successful OnlyFans model with 2 million Instagram followers, was going to get away with killing Obumseli, who was Black. Since then, Rolling Stone has spoken with several people who knew or interacted with the couple in Miami and in Austin, where they lived before moving to Florida. Sources, which included friends as well as neighbors, described Clenney as the aggressor in an abusive relationship with Obumseli. Multiple people claimed to have seen her hit him and push him in public. Sources said Obumseli had often tried to de-escalate the situation and none of the sources who spoke to Rolling Stone claimed to have ever seen him behave violently towards her.
Still, more than four months went by without updates from the Miami Police. During that time, Larry Handfield, a lawyer for Obumseli’s family, told Rolling Stone that the police had prepared to close the case less than 24 hours after the killing, and only after he met with the State Attorney did they pursue an investigation. The Miami Police and the State Attorney have declined to comment on this.
On Aug. 11, however, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Clenney’s arrest on a murder charge with a press conference. Asked what had taken so long, Miami Police Chief Manuel Morales said they’d needed that time to build a case against Clenney. “You only get one shot and you wanna get everything right,” he said.
Fernandez Rundle said Clenney had made a three-inch stab wound in Obumseli’s upper chest with a kitchen knife, negating her earlier claims to police that she had thrown the knife from 10 feet away, and said Clenney had shown no signs of injury the night of the stabbing, despite Prieto’s claims that Obumseli had choked her and pushed her to the ground in an altercation. At the press conference, Fernandez Rundle also showed surveillance footage from an elevator in the couple’s apartment building, taken two months before the stabbing, which showed Clenney repeatedly hitting Obumeli.
Prieto filed a motion requesting that discovery in the case be sealed, arguing that the release of the elevator footage showed the prosecution was trying to bias the public against Clenney. The State Attorney argued that, among other things, it was Prieto who had been attempting to control the public narrative by giving interviews to multiple news outlets, including Rolling Stone. The judge has yet to rule on this motion.
At the time of her arrest on Aug. 10, Clenney had been in Hawaii attending rehab for PTSD and substance abuse, Prieto said. She was extradited then booked into a Miami jail on Aug. 26 and made her first court appearance Aug 27, where a judge did not grant her request for a bond package, saying she wanted that decision to be made by the judge who will be handling the case. At the bond hearing, Prieto argued the worst charge Clenney should face was manslaughter, and said he had photographic proof of bruises on Clenney’s body from the night of the stabbing.