A Waco man facing the death penalty in a May 2014 double slaying failed Friday in his bid to replace his two court-appointed attorneys.
Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court denied a motion from Todric McDonald to fire attorneys John Donahue and Jon Evans after a closed-door conference in the judge’s chambers.
Donahue, Evans and McLennan County First Assistant District Attorney Michael Jarrett all declined comment after the hearing, citing a gag order Strother has placed on parties involved in the capital murder case.
In a notarized motion McDonald filed with the court Aug. 31, McDonald tried to make it appear that Donahue was the one filing the motion and seeking to withdraw as counsel.
But the motion was not signed by Donahue, and the person who notarized it is an officer at the Jack Harwell Detention Center, where the 28-year-old McDonald is housed with access to a law library and computer.
McDonald is charged with capital murder in the deaths of Justin Javier Gonzalez, 24, and Ulysses Gonzalez, 30, at the Pecan Tree Apartments, 2600 Grim Ave.
The district attorney’s office has said it will seek the death penalty if McDonald is convicted of capital murder in the cousins’ deaths. No date has been set for his trial.
McDonald’s motion reads, in part, “The defendant and counsel are in fundamental and unalterable disagreement over the conduct of the defense and the objectives that should be pursued in preparing and presenting the defense. This disagreement affects the very basis of the attorney-client relationship and impairs both counsels (sic) ability to exercise his best professional judgment and the defendants (sic) right to the effective assistance of counsel.”
McDonald also is indicted in separate cases for assault family violence, two counts of evading arrest in a vehicle, two counts of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault.
He also has pending unindicted cases after arrests for unlawfully carrying a firearm by a felon, endangering a child and theft, according to court records.
The cousins’ bodies were found lying on the living room floor of a second-story apartment. Each suffered multiple gunshot wounds, Waco police said.
The two men did not live at the complex and were there visiting a friend, according to police reports.
McDonald was arrested three days after the killings following a short police chase. Police said McDonald was working on a car outside his residence when officers from several agencies came to arrest him.
He fled eastbound on Bosque Boulevard in his vehicle with a woman and a toddler inside.
McDonald rammed a U.S. Marshals Service vehicle at North 26th Street and Bosque Boulevard, and McDonald’s car was forced onto the curb, officers said.
He tried to run, but his door was stuck on the curb and he could not get out of the vehicle, according to reports.