A prosecutor for the Attorney General’s office and defense attorneys for Elizabeth Grace McDonald discussed several concerns about the case during a status conference today.
Grace McDonald, 23, is facing charges of capital murder of multiple persons, criminal conspiracy and prohibited sexual conduct. She and her adoptive sibling, Gabe McDonald, are accused of fatally shooting their parents, Gregg and Jana McDonald, March 2, 2016, in their Conley Avenue home.
Grace is also accused of having sex with her adoptive brother. Gabe McDonald, who is accused of pulling the trigger during the fatal shooting, is only facing one count of capital murder of multiple persons.
Defense attorney Thomas Fagerberg said today he was concerned with Grace McDonald back in custody they would like to look at sending her to a treatment center, possibly out of state.
There was no mention on what kind of treatment was needed for Grace McDonald, but Assistant Attorney General Geoff Barr said the state would need time to review the motion. District Judge James Rush asked defense attorneys to communicate with the state and then communicate with the court in regard to filing a motion.
Grace McDonald bonded out of jail Feb. 2 after her bond was reduced from about $2 million to $200,000 following a pre-trial hearing with the newly-assigned prosecution. District Attorney Bobby Bland recused his office from both siblings’ cases in December.
She was arrested again April 11 after the judge ordered a warrant for her arrest for a bond condition violation. Some of the bond conditions included she could not attempt to injure herself, which she had done in the past prosecution previously told the court, and that she would only be able to reside with one family.
Court records show a motion to modify a bond condition was filed April 5 for her to live with another family. An order denying the motion was later filed April 10 and the same day the warrant was issued for her arrest. The warrant stated no bond would be permitted.
Both Barr and Fagerberg, who were teleconferenced in Monday, also expressed concern that with her brother’s jury trial scheduled for June 11, which is expected to take about a week, and her case close behind, set for June 24, there may not be enough time to properly prepare for Grace McDonald’s trial.
Fagerberg said they would need a copy of the transcript from Gabe McDonald’s trial and need time to digest what happens during the course of his trial before taking her case before a jury. Fagerberg said he would like to plant the seed of a possible continuance for her trial.
“I share Mr. Fagerberg’s concern in that regard,” Barr said, adding that the state is still conducting its investigation into Grace McDonald’s case and Gabe McDonald’s trial will be relevant to that.
Rush asked the prosecutor and defense attorneys to discuss the issue further, consider a timeframe for Grace McDonald’s trial and they would discuss the matter further during a May pre-trial conference.
“Certainly I want to move both cases. They have been in the system for awhile,” Rush said, adding that it would benefit the defendants, family members and community, “but it needs to be done right.”
A pre-trial hearing for Gabe McDonald is set for 2 p.m. May 8 and another hearing for Grace McDonald is set for 1:30 p.m. May 10 in Rush’s courtroom.