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Cell phone records OK'd

| Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A federal judge ruled Tuesday for a second time that prosecutors can use cell phone records to try to prove that Damian Ray Bradford was on the Ohio Turnpike at the same time Dr. Gulam Moonda was shot and killed there.

U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. was told yesterday that the doctor's widow, Donna Moonda, may be called as a witness at Bradford's trial, which is scheduled to begin July 24 in Akron.

Bradford, 24, of Center, Beaver County, has pleaded not guilty to charges of interstate stalking and a firearms violation resulting in the death of Moonda, 69, of Hermitage, Mercer County.

Moonda, his wife, and his mother-in-law, Dorothy Smouse, 75, also of Hermitage, were traveling along the Ohio Turnpike to Toledo on May 13, 2005, when they stopped at an emergency pull-off near Cleveland to change drivers.

Donna Moonda, 46, who police said was having an affair with Bradford, told investigators that an unknown robber pulled in behind them, stole her husband's wallet and shot him in the side of the face.

No charges have been filed against Donna Moonda, and her attorney has said she was not involved in her husband's slaying.

Prosecutors contend that phone company records can place Bradford's cell phone in Beaver County, Hermitage and various locations along the Ohio Turnpike the day of the murder. The records also show calls and text messages between Bradford and Donna Moonda that day.

Dowd last week denied a request by defense attorneys Michael J. DeRiso and Patrick J. Thomassey to suppress the records which they argued were obtained illegally.

The judge, who ruled last week that prosecutors did nothing improper in obtaining the records, refused a request by DeRiso and Thomassey to reconsider his decision yesterday.

Dowd also was told during yesterday's conference with prosecutors and defense attorneys that there is a possibility that Donna Moonda and Smouse could be called as witnesses at Bradford's trial. Prosecutors said steps will be taken to protect Donna Moonda's Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Donna Moonda's attorney, Niki Schwartz, could not be reached for comment.

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