AKRON, Ohio – Prosecutors said Donna Moonda grew tired of her wealthy husband so she hired her lover to kill him for a share of his multimillion-dollar estate.
But defense attorneys told jurors Thursday that Moonda tried to revive her 69-year-old husband, Dr. Gulam Moonda, after Damian Bradford shot him on the Ohio turnpike, proving her innocence. Bradford acted alone, they said.
Jurors in Donna Moonda's murder-for-hire trial began deliberating Thursday following the closing arguments and resumed their work Friday. If convicted, Moonda, 48, could face the death penalty.
Bradford has admitted fatally shooting Gulam Moonda of Hermitage, Pa., along the highway after his wife pulled off the Ohio Turnpike near Cleveland, supposedly to let her husband take the wheel.
Moonda cried during the hourlong statement by prosecutors, her head bobbing up and down as she sobbed.
"Two minds were set on murder," assistant U.S. attorney Linda Barr told jurors Thursday in closing arguments. "Two fingers were on the trigger of that gun on May 13, 2005, and two people must be held accountable."
Moonda's attorney, Roger Synenberg, said in his closing argument that the doctor still had a pulse when paramedics arrived because his wife had performed CPR.
"Her doing CPR for 20 minutes, that's evidence of innocence," he said. "That's not evidence you want your husband robbed and murdered."
Synenberg has maintained that Bradford, 25, of Monaca, Pa., is a thug who acted alone.
"It was a spontaneous decision made by a 'roided-up drug dealer who needed money to buy drugs," he said.
Moonda, a nurse, and Bradford met in a drug rehab program. Bradford testified that she offered him half of her husband's estate if he killed the doctor. Bradford pleaded guilty to interstate stalking and a gun charge and promised to cooperate with authorities in return for a 17 1/2-year sentence.
Assistant U.S. attorney Nancy Kelley recounted the numerous text messages and phone calls Bradford and Donna Moonda made to each other, messages that Moonda would sometimes sign as "your baby girl."
"They told of sex, drugs, wealth, violence and a future together," Kelley said.
About two hours into deliberations Thursday evening, the jury asked to review Moonda's interview with the State Highway Patrol the night of the killing. They then listened again to the 45-minute recording, in which Moonda failed to give a physical description of the gunman.
Besides the murder-for-hire charge, Moonda is charged with interstate stalking and using or carrying a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.