Trial date set in Sabina O'Donnell killing

January 18, 2011 11:38:38 AM PST
A trial date has been set in a high-profile murder last summer in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia.

Donte Johnson, 19, will go on trial on March 26, 2012 in the killing of 20-year-old Sabina O'Donnell.

Johnson was expected to plead guilty back in December, but instead fired his court-appointed attorney.

He appeared with a different attorney earlier this month when he stated his intention to go to trial.

Johnson could be sentenced to death if convicted.

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, 2010, but the attack escalated.

Police say O'Donnell died of strangulation and was sexually assaulted.

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

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.