Plea deal struck in Sabina O'Donnell killing

20-year-old Donte Johnson was arrested on June 16th in the rape and murder of Sabina O'Donnell.
November 18, 2010 1:28:55 PM PST
Action News has learned that the accused murderer of Sabina O'Donnell has struck a deal with prosecutors.

Donte Johnson has agreed to plead guilty in common pleas court on December 10th in the murder and rape of 20-year-old O'Donnell.

Johnson, 18, was arrested in June and charged with murder, rape and related offenses.

Authorities say Johnson initially tried to rob O'Donnell of her bike outside her Northern Liberties apartment as she was returning home from her waitressing job on June 2nd, but the attack escalated.

Prosecutors say Johnson confessed to the killing and DNA evidence from the crime scene linked him to the attack.

On July 7th, he waived his preliminary hearing on the murder charge.

Prompted by surveillance footage and an anonymous tip, police began searching for Johnson after O'Donnell's body was discovered.

His mother later arranged for him to turn himself in to police.

"If it wasn't for the tip caller we may not have came to this as soon as we did," Philadelphia Police Officer Joseph Goodwin said at the time. "So she deserves all the credit."

Sabina's mother Rachel and her stepfather Mark Rounds spoke with Action News back on June 17th.

They gave their reaction to the arrest of Johnson.

"Very happy that he's caught, but it doesn't change anything really," Rachel said.

"That's basically just the beginning of the end because we're hoping we don't have to face a trial," Mark said.

With the reported plea deal in place, it does not look like a trial will occur.

"We love her and we miss her and we know she knows that and we know wherever she is is a good place," Rachel said about her daughter.

Sabina's parents are hoping through the Sabina Rose Memorial Fund, ways can be found to keep things like this from happening again.

Sabina Rose O'Donnell Memorial Fund
c/o Hyperion Bank
199 W. Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19123

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The Associated Press contributed to this article


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