Donna Moonda

Donna Moonda

Although Donna J. Moonda’s three trial attorneys said they would not be handling her appeal, they went ahead and filed one appeal anyway.

Attorneys Roger M. Synenberg and David L. Grant of Cleveland and Lawrence J. Whitney of Akron said in a notice filed Monday that Mrs. Moonda, 48, is appealing her conviction on charges of hiring her lover to kill her husband, Gulam H. Moonda, 69, of Hermitage; her sentence; and rulings made by U.S. District Court Judge David D. Dowd Jr., Akron, before and during the trial.

The filing did not include specifics of the appeal. Messages left for Synenberg, Grant and Whitney were not returned.

At Mrs. Moonda’s sentencing Friday, the attorneys asked that someone else be appointed to handle the appeal. Dowd appointed the Federal Public Defender’s Office, noting the office was hiring two new attorneys, and was expanding its breadth of practice to include capital cases.

The appeal had not been docketed as of Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Sixth of Appeal, Cincinnati.

Mrs. Moonda was convicted by a jury in July on four charges, although the jury recommended that she not be put to death. Dowd sentenced her to life in prison on a charge of murder for hire, and prison terms of 30 years on each of the other charges.

The defense team has said they thought they sufficiently undercut the credibility of Mrs. Moonda’s lover, Damian R. Bradford, 26, of Beaver County, in his testimony against her, and otherwise raised reasonable doubt as to her guilt.

Bradford admitted shooting Dr. Moonda on May 13, 2005, in an emergency pull-off westbound on the Ohio Turnpike, Cuyahoga County. In return for his cooperation, prosecutors recommended that he be sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison, which Dowd accepted.

At her sentencing, Mrs. Moonda repeatedly reiterated her claim that she had nothing to do with her husband’s death and that Bradford acted alone.

The defense team also argued that Dowd had the authority to sentence Mrs. Moonda to less than life in prison. Dowd disagreed and said their argument was best suited for the appeals court.

Among Dowd’s decisions that went against the defense he refused to allow: the jury to be taken to the scene of the crime; two of Mrs. Moonda’s recorded statements to be played for the jury; and an expert on eyewitness identification to testify.

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