The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

July 24, 2006

Damian Bradford admits in federal court he killed Dr. Moonda

AKRON — Faced with life in prison or the possibility of being released by his 43rd birthday, Damian R. Bradford elected to give himself a chance at a second life by turning on his former lover and admitting he killed Dr. Gulam Moonda last year.

Bradford, 25, avoided a trial Monday and revealed in Akron federal court that he followed the Shenango Valley urologist across the state line and fatally shot him along the Ohio Turnpike.

The Beaver County man pleaded guilty to interstate stalking and using a firearm during a crime of violence in a plea deal that is contingent upon him cooperating in the prosecution of Moonda’s widow, Donna.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors offered to recommend Bradford serve 210 months, or 17èyears, in federal prison.

Bradford could have faced life in prison if a jury convicted him of either charge.

No one mentioned Mrs. Moonda, 47, by name during the 45-minute hearing in Senior District Judge David D. Dowd Jr.’s courtroom, but court documents show Bradford on Friday told the Ohio Highway Patrol his version of the turnpike killing, a crime police allege can be traced to the summer of 2004 when Bradford met Mrs. Moonda at a drug rehabilitation center.

Defense attorneys had been preparing to convince a jury of Bradford’s innocence, but they said Monday the likelihood Mrs. Moonda would have exercised her Fifth Amendment rights in lieu of answering questions and “damning” evidence prosecutors recently turned over compelled them to pursue the plea deal that would significantly reduce Bradford’s prison term.

“The sentencing guidelines were horrific here, so based upon the totality of the circumstances, we made a plea arrangement with the prosecutor,” said Patrick J. Thomassey, one of Bradford’s two defense attorneys.

Thomassey did not know exactly how much of the 17è-year prison term Bradford is likely to serve, but he said his client will “do most of it.”

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