Defense Pleads for Life of Woman Convicted of Hiring Lover to Kill Her Doctor Husband

A woman convicted of hiring her lover to kill her wealthy husband shouldn't get the death penalty because she suffers from a personality disorder and the triggerman got just 17 1/2 years in prison, her attorney told jurors Monday.

David Grant, attorney for Donna Moonda, 48, told the U.S. District Court jury that convicted Moonda that justice would be served if her life is spared in the death of Dr. Gulam Moonda, 69, who was shot along the Ohio Turnpike.

Her one-time lover, Damian Bradford, 26, of Monaca, Pa., the triggerman and the prosecution's star witness, was sentenced last week by Judge David D. Dowd Jr., who is presiding at the sentencing phase of her trial.

Grant pointed out that Bradford could get out of prison before age 40 with good behavior.

Given Bradford's sentence, "It's simply not right and not just to impose the death penalty in this case," he told jurors.

Bradford admitted shooting the doctor in the side of the head on May 13, 2005, after his wife pulled over on the turnpike south of Cleveland, supposedly to let her husband take the wheel. He said Donna Moonda promised him half of her multimillion dollar inheritance.

Grant described her as a hardworking nurse-anesthetist who went into a depression after her father died and she then started abusing drugs.

She lost her job in early 2004 because of a drug problem and when she met Bradford in counseling she was suffering from "dependent personality disorder," Grant told the jury. He said such a person is easily manipulated and depends on others to make major decisions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Kelley told the jury that Moonda encouraged Bradford to kill her husband and paid him to do so. "This was not a plan hatched in the heat of the moment," Kelley said.