A 20-year-old waitress was dragged from her bike, raped and then strangled to death with her own bra just yards from her own home, a court has heard.
Sabina Rose O’Donnell’s dead body was found naked, apart from a pair of beige socks, by a dog walker in a grassy Philadelphia lot on June 2, 2010.
Ninth-grade drop-out Donte Johnton, also 20, is accused of stalking the 5ft 3in woman for her pink-and-grey bicycle she was riding home after a night out with friends.
The first two days of his murder trial in Common Pleas Court heard how Johnson allegedly grabbed his 100lb victim when she arrived at the front of her apartment building.
Philly.com reported how prosecutors said he dragged her 120ft to the rear of her home, where he raped and then killed her by strangling her with her own bra.
Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax told the first day of the trial that O’Donnell was: ‘Tiny, small, petite but so vulnerable. Perfect prey.’
He said Johnson’s stalking of her on a bicycle, which was captured on CCTV to be played later on in the trial, happened because: ‘He knew he could dominate, overwhelm and control her.’
He claimed Johnson left his DNA ‘all over her, inside of her’ and said ‘he destroyed her’ during the attack. But defence attorney Lee Mandell rejected the claims.
He said: ‘This is not a case of first-degree murder. The people who test for DNA are people like us. They are human beings. Like all human beings, they are capable of making mistakes.’
Forensic psychologist Gerald Cooke added that Johnson, with an IQ of just 73, had most likely been born with brain damage.
He said he acted like an 11 or 12-year-old and smoked marijuana and drank alcohol for many years.
Dog walker Christina Sirochman said the victim was wearing just a pair of beige socks, with a swarm of flies around her mouth, when she found her dumped body on June 2, 2010.
Sirochman told a jury she touched her to see if she was alive, saying: ‘It was just like touching a piece of glass. That was somebody’s child and I didn’t want her to be alone.’
Other witnesses said they found a man’s dirty t-shirt and O’Donnell’s purse in the hours after the murder.
Assistant Medical Examiner Edwin Lieberman, who performed the autopsy, said it was ‘one of the tightest ligatures I’ve seen in a very long time.’
He added that it would have taken 30 seconds for the victim to fall unconscious, and another three to five minutes of ‘continuous pressure to the neck’ to kill.
If convicted of first-degree murder Johnson, who denies the charge and whose innocence defence lawyers say can be proved through DNA evidence, will be sentenced to life-without-parole.
The trial is expected to continue until next week.