Jury to deliberate sentence of wife in murder-for-hire of Indian doctor

Jurors were to begin deliberating Wednesday whether a woman described by a psychologist as submissive and easily manipulated should be imprisoned for life or sent to federal death row for hiring her lover to kill her Indian-born husband along the Ohio Turnpike.

Donna Moonda, 48, would become just the third female on death row in Terre Haute, Indiana, if she receives the death penalty.

Moonda was convicted earlier this month of murder-for-hire and other charges in the May 13, 2005, shooting death of Dr. Gulam Moonda south of Cleveland.

The same U.S. District Court jury that convicted Moonda was to hear the closing arguments at her sentencing hearing Wednesday before they begin their deliberations. Testimony in the hearing ended Tuesday without Moonda taking the witness stand.

Prosecutors say Moonda persuaded triggerman Damian Bradford, 26, to kill her 69-year-old husband with promises of sharing half of his multimillion dollar estate.

In testimony Tuesday, psychologist Robert Kaplan testified that Moonda suffers from visions of her husband's bloody face, developed post-traumatic stress disorder because of his murder, and had flashbacks of the shooting that woke her hourly.

Kaplan also said Moonda has dependent personality disorder. She feared displeasing her father in childhood and that pattern continued with her husband.

The disorder could lead her to act against her own best judgment, he said, adding that she is submissive and easily manipulated.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Barr pointed out during her cross-examination that Kaplan had taken Moonda's word without further investigation in some instances. For example, she told him she was 31 years old when she was 45.

Defense attorney David Grant told the jury that Moonda should not get the death penalty because she suffers from a personality disorder and because Bradford was sentenced to just 17 1/2 years in prison. Bradford could get out of prison before age 40 with good behavior, Grant said.

Bradford, of Monaca, Pennsylvania, testified as the prosecution's star witness as part of a plea deal, and he was sentenced last week by Judge David D. Dowd Jr., who is presiding at the sentencing phase of Moonda's trial.

Bradford admitted following the couple from their Hermitage, Pennsylvania, home and shooting the doctor in the side of the head after Donna Moonda pulled over on the turnpike, supposedly to let her husband take the wheel.