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Published: Tuesday, 6/26/2007

Turnpike murder-for-hire court proceedings: Defense calls triggerman liar


AKRON, Ohio -- The triggerman and star prosecution witness in the trial of a woman accused of hiring him to kill her wealthy husband along the Ohio Turnpike testified Tuesday that he has lied in past court proceedings and manipulated his friends.

Damian Bradford, of Monaca, Pa., returned to the witness stand for a second day in federal trial of Donna Moonda, 48. She could face the death penalty if convicted of hiring Bradford to kill her husband, Dr. Gulam Moonda, 69, along the turnpike on May 13, 2005.

Bradford testified Monday that Moonda planned the crime and promised half of her multimillion dollar inheritance to him if he killed her husband. But Moonda's attorney, Roger Synenberg, has portrayed Bradford as a liar who acted alone.

Roger Synenberg, recapping portions of Bradford's testimony from Monday, asked him if it was true that he had lied in other court proceedings before the trial.

"Yes, sir," said Bradford, dressed in an orange prison uniform.

Bradford, who has pleaded guilty to interstate stalking and a gun charge and will serve a 17 1/2-year prison sentence in exchange for cooperating with authorities, also testified that he had mentioned in his handwritten diary, which he had kept since he was a teenager, and in Monday's trial testimony that he had used his friends.

"You recall having said that," Synenberg asked.

"Yes, sir," Bradford replied.

When U.S. District Court Judge David D. Dowd Jr. interrupted the cross-examination, Synenberg detailed the aim of his questions.

"I'm trying to go through all the times he lied," Synenberg said. "Sometimes he was under oath, sometimes he wasn't under oath."

Synenberg, questioning Bradford on his diary, also asked if Bradford recalled writing, "I need to think of myself before anything else."

The 25-year-old said he couldn't recall writing that.

Bradford testified Monday that Moonda put the plan in place after expressing her dissatisfaction with the $1 million offer by her husband for a divorce.

Donna Moonda had a prenuptial agreement that limited her to only $250,000 in a divorce. The doctor's will, however, promised her millions plus $676,000 in insurance policies and their home.

Bradford said he was to receive half of Gulam Moonda's estate, estimated to be worth $3 million to $6 million, for killing him.

Bradford said on the day of the shooting he followed the couple as they left their home in Hermitage, Pa., near the Ohio state line, and pulled in behind them when Donna Moonda stopped their car along the turnpike about 30 miles south of Cleveland. He ran to the passenger side of the car and confronted Gulam Moonda and then shot him.

After the shooting, he turned around on the turnpike and headed back to Pennsylvania, throwing Moonda's wallet and the 9 mm gun used to shoot him out the window.

Bradford and Moonda met in drug rehab. She was sentenced to rehab after pleading no contest to stealing the painkiller fentanyl from the hospital where she worked; he was a low-level cocaine dealer from Pittsburgh.

Moonda showered Bradford with gifts, including clothes and jewelry, gave him and his friends Christmas gifts in 2004 and picked up the tab for his monthly living expenses, shopping trips and meals out, Bradford testified.

Moonda, being held without bond, also is charged with interstate stalking and two counts of using or carrying a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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