October 25, 2014

Elyria
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Death penalty sought in brothers’ slayings

ELYRIA — Donna Brown could get the death penalty if she’s convicted of aggravated murder for the July 5 shooting deaths of her cousins, Dale Linder Jr. and Justin Linder.

Brown, 24, was indicted this week on charges of aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault, aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence in connection with the shootings, which took place at the Linders’ West 23rd Street home in Lorain.

Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Dave Muhek said the grand jury agreed with the charges laid out by prosecutors, who believe the killings were premeditated.

“We felt the evidence warranted the charges,” Muhek said.

Dale Linder Sr., the father of the two slain men, testified during a preliminary hearing in Lorain Municipal Court last month that he was talking to Dale Linder Jr. in his living room when Brown entered the house through the kitchen and walked up to his son.

He testified the younger Linder ran into the kitchen where Brown shot him. She then allegedly went outside and shot Justin Linder. Both men died from single gunshot wounds to the chest.

Mike Duff, Brown’s defense attorney, said he is disappointed prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.

“The death penalty should be reserved for the most heinous offenses, not someone who’s been terrorized and pistol-whipped because of her sexual orientation,” Duff said.

During the preliminary hearing, Duff argued that the Linder brothers had terrorized Brown because she is lesbian. He said gays tend not to be accepted by many in the black community.

He accused Justin Linder of pistol-whipping Brown at a Fourth of July party that took place hours before the shootings. Dale Linder Sr. testified that his sons had argued with Brown and left the party when she arrived.

Lorain police Detective Steyven Curry testified during the preliminary hearing that Brown had a black eye when she surrendered to police hours after the shooting. He also said he didn’t consider the case a hate crime.

Brown, who is being held at the Lorain County Jail, is due to be arraigned next week.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.