New Castle News

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April 16, 2011

Judge rejects motion by Donna Moonda

SHARON — A federal judge has denied a motion by Donna J. Moonda to vacate her sentence.

The decision comes opportunely while an Investigation Discovery channel documentary is airing, replaying the  murder case of Dr. Gulam Moonda.

U.S. Judge David D. Dowd Jr., Akron, agreed with prosecutors that Mrs. Moonda is trying to relitigate issues already decided by a higher appeals court.

Mrs. Moonda, 52, formerly of Hermitage, was convicted by a jury in July 2007 of murder-for-hire and three other federal charges related to the shooting death of her husband, Dr. Moonda.

Moonda, 69, was gunned down May 13, 2005, in an emergency pull-off of the Ohio Turnpike in Cuyahoga County by Mrs. Moonda’s lover, Damian R. Bradford, 29, formerly of Beaver County.

Bradford testified that Mrs. Moonda promised to share her inheritance with him if he killed her husband. Mrs. Moonda has maintained that she had nothing to do with her husband’s death and that Bradford acted alone.

Mrs. Moonda’s attorneys, Timothy C. Ivey and Vanessa F. Malone of the Federal Public Defender’s Office, Cleveland, said Bradford’s testimony was the only evidence about any deal between him and her to kill Dr. Moonda.

Bradford had plenty of incentive to testify against her as he had made a sweetheart of a deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Cleveland, they said.

Bradford, who is housed in Ray Brook, N.Y., was sentenced to 17 years in prison, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons lists his projected release date as April 6, 2021.

Dowd, who took six days to consider his decision, said a motion to vacate petition “is not an opportunity to revisit a ruling made on direct appeal.

“As indicated by the government, and as the (U.S. Court of Appeal for the) Sixth Circuit (in Cincinnati) considered and rejected the argument that there was insufficient evidence to support the consideration element of the murder for hire conviction, there is no basis to grant the petitioner ... relief,” Dowd said Thursday.

Mrs. Moonda can appeal Dowd’s decision to the Sixth Circuit, which ruled on her direct appeal Sept. 29, 2009.

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