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New Details Emerge In Sabina O’Donnell Murder Case

(Murder victim Sabina O'Donnell, left, and suspect Donte Johnson.)

(Murder victim Sabina O’Donnell, left, and suspect Donte Johnson.)

Michelle Durham Michelle Durham
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Attorneys on both sides of the Sabina O’Donnell murder case were in court for hours Monday, but not in front of a jury.

The judge had to decide whether or not there was sufficient evidence to suppress the defendant’s confession. O’Donnell was raped and murdered in Northern Liberties in June 2010. Jury selection in this case begins Tuesday.

Attorneys for now 20-year-old Donte Johnson presented witnesses they say called into question Johnson’s ability to understand his rights and the impact the statement he gave to homicide detectives.

The lawyers also presented witnesses who testified that Johnson was observed drinking and smoking pot before he was taken into custody. A forensic psychologist for the defense testified to Johnson’s low I.Q. and what he termed evidence of brain damage. But prosecutors presented the officers who took Johnson into custody and one of the homicide detectives he spoke too.

All testified that he did not present as being intoxicated or high. Judge Glenn Bronson ruled that Johnson was not under the influence of the drugs or alcohol at the time of the statement; he had sufficient ability to understand his rights and his statement was given of his own free will and it will stand.

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