Trail set for O’Donnell killer, but could hit a snag

    A trial date has been set for 19-year-old Donte Johnson, who confessed to killing Northern Liberties waitress Sabina Rose O’Donnell last summer.

    Johnson will face a jury March 26, 2012 — provided he can pay his lawyer. Judge Rene Cardwell-Hughes questioned Johnson today about his family’s ability to pay the six-figure legal fees he’ll incur from retaining attorney Douglas Dolfman instead of court-appointed attorney Lee Mandell, whom Johnson fired after initially accepting a plea.

    As Philadelphia Weekly reports, Hughes cautioned the suspect about proceeding with the trial with an attorney he may not be able to afford. By not taking the plea, Johnson waives his right to appeal the final decision.

    A status hearing has been scheduled for the first week of February.

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