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Jury Deliberations Resume In Rape And Killing Of Sabina O’Donnel

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

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

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Jury deliberations are scheduled to resume this morning in the murder trial of Donte Johnson. He is accused of raping and strangling 20-year-old Sabina O’Donnel near her Northern Liberties home two years ago. The jury got the case yesterday after closing arguments.

Faced with DNA evidence, surveillance video and a confession from their client, the defense made two arguments — one challenging the conclusiveness of DNA evidence. Sperm taken from the crime scene matched Donte Johnson’s DNA to a certainty of one in six billion-trillion but the defense argued unlikely co-incidences are commonplace.

As for the confession, defense attorney Lee Mandel says an expert witness found Johnson had brain damage from an unknown source.

“He didn’t have the capacity based on the brain damage and his mental health deficiencies to make that statement and make it voluntarily, as well as the ability to recollect the events that had occurred.”

That forgetfulness argument drew a sharp rebuke from the prosecutor when it was his turn to speak. He looked at Johnson and said “you don’t forget what you did to that girl and you never will.”

O’Donnell was killed riding her bike home from a friend’s house in June 2010.