Donna Moonda

Donna Moonda

Donna J. Moonda has dependent personality disorder, her defense attorneys and prosecutors said last week, and that condition can be considered as a mitigating factor as to why she should not be executed for hiring her lover to kill her husband, Dr. Gulam H. Moonda.

Mrs. Moonda, 48, of Hermitage, was examined by a psychologist before her trial, but her mental state was not discussed during the trial. The psychologist is likely to testify during the sentencing phase, which begins Monday, and presumably will discuss DPD.

The jury that found Mrs. Moonda guilty of interstate stalking, murder for hire and two firearm charges will decide whether she will be executed or serve life in prison.

On its Web site, the Cleveland Clinic said DPD is one of a group of conditions called anxious personality disorders that are marked by nervousness and fear.

“DPD also is marked by helplessness, submissiveness, a need to be taken care of and for constant reassurance, and an inability to make decisions,” the clinic said.

People with DPD who seek treatment usually seek it for some problem that has arisen in their lives and becomes overwhelming, the clinic said.

“People with DPD are prone to developing depression or anxiety, and symptoms of these disorders might prompt the individual to seek help,” the clinic said.

Mrs. Moonda’s attorneys said she has suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder since the murder.

The main treatment method of DPD is short-term psychotherapy, while medication might be used for people who have depression or anxiety along with DPD, the clinic said.

The defense also is being allowed to present testimony from James E. Aiken, who will discuss the conditions in federal prison for someone sentenced to life without parole, and from Mrs. Moonda’s family and friends, who would express affection for her.

Defense attorneys said there is a “popular public perception that federal prisons are like country clubs.” Prosecutors characterized Aiken’s potential testimony as that Mrs. Moonda “would be confined in a ‘harsh, intensive disruptive secure prison environment until her death.’ ’’

Prosecutors said they do not have a problem with testimony relating to how Mrs. Moonda has adjusted to incarceration in the year she has been held in Medina County Jail, but believe Aiken’s potential testimony does not relate to any mitigating factor the jury may consider.

Mitigating factors, which suggest life in prison is appropriate or sufficient, can include that her lover, Damian R. Bradford, 25, of Beaver County, is equally culpable and received a prison term of 17è years; that her death would cause undue stress and great emotional pain for her mother and sisters; and that she could provide a benefit to society and other prisoners.

Aggravating factors, which support the imposition of the death penalty, can include that Mrs. Moonda anticipated receiving something of “pecuniary value” — such as money and property — from the death of her husband, and that the crimes took substantial planning and premeditation.

U.S. District Court Judge David D. Dowd Jr. ruled Friday that Aiken may testify.

Prosecutors also sought to prevent Mrs. Moonda’s family members and friends from testifying that they love her, that a verdict of death would have a negative impact on them, or about their personal views of the death penalty. Prosecutors called such opinions irrelevant.

Dowd said he will not restrict such testimony.

The defense noted that prosecutors are allowed to bring in Dr. Moonda’s friends, Drs. Ravi Sachdeva and Iftikhar A. Chatha, and possibly some patients, to testify at the sentence hearing in addition to family members to show “the full panoply of the victim’s life.”

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