Prosecutor Kevin Steele presented his closing argument in the murder trial of Mark O'Donnell before a judge and a packed courtroom yesterday.
But if a jury were hearing the case, Steele said, he would have observed six minutes of silence to show how much time 14-year-old Ebony Dorsey may have struggled to breathe last December as she fought off O'Donnell, her mother's then-boyfriend.
Imagine, he said, how many thoughts go through a mind in six minutes; imagine how many thoughts went through her mind.
Montgomery County Judge William Furber will decide tomorrow the degree of guilt for O'Donnell, 48, who has admitted to the killing.
Defense attorney Thomas C. Egan III is seeking a third-degree murder conviction on the basis of voluntary intoxication.
O'Donnell spent several hours prior to the slaying , ingesting cocaine with Dorsey's mother, Danielle Cattie, at Cattie's Ambler home, according to testimony.
Around 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 7 O'Donnell went to his estranged wife's apartment in Plymouth Meeting, where Dorsey was baby-sitting his 4-year-old daughter. O'Donnell admitted it was there that he strangled Dorsey, though he claims he blacked out during the act.
"But for [O'Donnell's] cocaine usage, Ebony Dorsey would have gone to school that day," Egan said.
Steele, first assistant district attorney for Montgomery County, argued otherwise. He said it was convenient that O'Donnell only lost his faculties during the commission of the murder.
"Her blood flowed at the defendant's hands," Steele said. "To say that the drugs did this and not the defendant goes against his own words."
Egan said O'Donnell went from a recreational cocaine user to a chronic user while dating Cattie.
O'Donnell, the father of two girls - ages 4 and 24 - worked as a nurse before his arrest and was living on his estranged wife's couch, though he had been openly dating Cattie since at least 2006.
Cattie claimed during trial that O'Donnell was a sexual deviate who forced her into anal sex. Egan dismissed Cattie's comments as lies.
Directly contradicting the prosecution, Egan went on to suggest that it was Dorsey, not O'Donnell, who viewed online pornography just minutes before the murder on a computer at the crime scene.
"To suggest anyone other than the defendant looked at those sites is just wrong," Steele countered.
O'Donnell's false perception that he caught Dorsey molesting his daughter that morning was what sent him into a rage, Egan has contended.
But, during closings, Steele suggested spurned sexual advances from O'Donnell to Dorsey may have been the triggering event and, thus, would negate the defense. Egan denied that claim, saying cocaine fueled O'Donnell's actions that day no matter what the circumstances. O'Donnell claims he never raped Dorsey.
An autopsy revealed Dorsey was raped and sodomized within hours of her death but no DNA evidence was found.
O'Donnell's brother, Michael, a Florida resident, has attended every day of the six-day trial, sometimes bringing his younger brother clean socks and shirts. He said he felt very confident in Egan's closing yesterday.
"You have to support your family, especially at times like this," he said. "It's been hard. At first, I had to come to the realization that a family member of mine did this.