Court Appearances

Status Meeting Set for March 7, ’11 in Case Against D. Johnson

There will be a March 7th Status Meeting in the case against Donte Johnson. The hope is that the words of Judge Rene Cardwell-Hughes will sink in and he he and his family will realize that his initial plan to plead guilty in return for life in prison is his best move.

The trial date (should there be one) has been changed to April 30, 2012.

Here’s hoping Johnson pleads guilty

This Thursday, Feb 3, 2011 Donte Johnson will be given one more chance to plead guilty and spare Sabina Odonell’s family the agony of a trial. Please try to come out to the courthouse to show our support.

Julio in Jail-yo!

Fri, 28 Jan 2011

Dear Community Leaders,

I am pleased to report that our concerted efforts have been paying off with repeat theft from auto offenders. As many of you know, Anthony Chandler was sentenced to 1-2 years of incarceration for his latest theft from auto conviction last week.

Today, Julio Jackson was sentenced to 1-2 years in state custody followed by a year of probation for his theft from Motor Vehicle arrests. This is in addition to the 11 1/2 to 23 months that he had earned on another arrest this past fall. As you may recall, Julio was the repeat offender for whom so many 6th and 9th district residents wrote victim impact letters. Because of our developing partnerships, both of these men will be off the streets for a significant period of time.

I can’t thank you enough for your help. Please pass along my thanks to members of your organization. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Vince Regan
Assistant Chief, Central Bureau
Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
Three South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-686-8990  (voice)

Julio Smash-n-Grab Jackson Sentencing Postponed (again) to 1/28/11

This is the career criminal that was behind many smash-n-grabs in and around our area. Our presence at his sentencing [rescheduled for 1/28/11 in rm #806] at 10:30am will be helpful in showing our concern to Judge Kirkland presiding over the case. If you have been the victim of one of these attacks, you know how expensive and unsettling this sort of thing can be.

You can read about Jackson here:

Below is a letter from the ADA:


Dear Center City Leaders:

I wanted to write and update you on Julio Jackson. Today he was convicted of Theft From a Motor Vehicle and related charges for breaking into one car and also convicted of breaking a window of another car.  Sentencing was deferred to December 2, 2010 at 10:30am in room 806 of the Criminal Justice Center at 1301 Filbert Street.

Because of your efforts, I was able to present the Judge with more than 75 emails and letters from concerned community members to be considered at sentencing. I truly appreciate all of your help with this case and will keep you informed about sentencing. If any members of your organization wish to be present at sentencing, they are more than welcome to come.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Thanks again.

Vince Regan
Assistant Chief, Central Bureau Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
Three South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-686-8990  (voice)

Trial Set for Sabina’s Accused Killer

Philadelphia Daily News

Donte Johnson [,19], the North Philadelphia man charged with raping and murdering [Sabina Rose O’Donell in the early hours of June 2, 2010], will go on trial March 26, 2012, a judge ordered yesterday.

Johnson confessed to police and was linked to the crime by DNA, but he wants a trial, said defense attorney Douglas Dolfman, whom Johnson hired in December after firing his first attorney. [Johnson rejected state’s offer of life plus 40 – 80.]

While being represented by the first attorney, Johnson indicated that he planned to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the chance for parole. … iller.html

From Tara M:
Plea still possible at next status hearing February 21, 2011

From NoLibs Townwatch:
Let’s all hope he takes a plea and spares this family any more grief.

Come out to the courthouse to support neighbor, friend, and daughter Sabina Rose O’Donnell.‏

Sadly, the family of our neighbor, friend, and daughter Sabina Rose O’Donnell  will now be subjected to a trial.

There will be a Hearing to formally file charges on Tuesday, Jan 18, ’11 at 10am in Rm 1007 at the Criminal Justice Center, 1301 Filbert Street in the case against D. Johnson (who has confessed responsibility for her death in May ’10).

All are urged to spread the word and/or attend. A strong showing will mean a lot to her family. And, the Judge needs to see the extent of her loss to the many lives that she touched.

Thank You

Donte Johnson’s Lawyer: Going to Trial for Murder of Sabina O’Donnell

Jan 5, 2011 by Tara Murtha of Philadelphia Weekly

In a surprise turn of events last month, it was revealed that Donte Johnson had fired court-appointed attorney Lee Mandell and retained new counsel, attorney Douglas Dolfman. Dolfman’s first motion was to request additional time from the court to allow the defense “further preparation and investigation.”

In the follow-up court date that took place this morning at Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center, Dolfman confirmed that Donte Johnson has rejected all pleas and chosen to go to trial.

“There will be not be a plea,” Dolfman announced to the court.

Judge Benjamin Lerner asked the Commonwealth if this is was going to be a capital case.

“Absolutely,” responded Sax.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax confirms that the state is seeking first-degree murder charges against Johnson and that a notice of aggravating circumstances, a motion necessary to request the death penalty, has been filed. The aggravating circumstances include what Sax called “horrific” sexual assault, robbery and burglary.

O’Donnell died of strangulation. DNA evidence retrieved from her body links to Johnson.

Johnson was 18 years old at the time of the murder, which took place this past June.

“If Mr. Johnson wants to exercise his right to a jury trial, that then that’s how we will proceed,” said Sax.

The family of Sabina Rose O’Donnell, who had previously expressed hope to avoid a trial, were not present in the courtroom.

Dolfman said he is committed to fighting for his client’s life.

“After a thorough review of the paperwork in this case, I’m of the opinion that this may not be a capital case,” he said. “It’s not just about Donte Johnson, it’s about his family as well.”

The official charges and date will be set for trial in the courtroom of Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes on January 18.

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