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Attorney: Cousins tormented murder suspect about her sexuality


LORAIN — Donna Brown shot her two cousins — Dale Linder Jr. and Justin Linder — in self-defense because they terrorized her for being a lesbian, Brown’s attorney, Mike Duff, said Thursday during Brown’s preliminary hearing on murder charges.

Duff alleged that Justin Linder pistol-whipped Brown at a Fourth of July party and that both men had been terrorizing her prior to the July 5 shooting.

The brothers, he said, were not accepting of their cousin’s relationship with another woman, and that lesbians generally are not accepted in the black community.

“There’s a lot of studies on that issue, and we hope to retain an expert on that,” he said.

Lorain Police Detective Steyven Curry testified that Brown had a black eye when she was arrested. He wouldn’t say what it was a result of, and he wouldn’t say whether her sexual orientation was a motive.

The investigation, however, is ongoing.

“I didn’t consider it a hate crime, and no motives were revealed,” Curry said.

Dale Linder Sr., the father of Justin and Dale Linder Jr., took the stand during the hearing in Lorain Municipal Court and recounted the morning his two sons were shot.

He said he was sleeping when thunder woke him July 5 around 6:20 a.m.

Dale Linder Sr. said he was talking to Dale Linder Jr., who was in the living room awaiting a job interview.

“He was telling me how he was going to prepare himself at his job interview,” he told the court.

Linder said it was then Dale Linder Jr. noticed Brown enter through the kitchen. He said Brown then walked up to his son and raised a gun to him when he ran into the kitchen, where he was later shot.

Linder said Brown then left the kitchen, looked at him and ran out of the house. Justin Linder was shot outside the home immediately after, according to police reports.

Both Dale and Justin Linder died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, according to Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans.

Police said Aaron Frost and Desirae Cato also were outside the home when police arrived. Cato was a girlfriend of one of Linder’s sons, according to police, and Linder said the girl often stayed at his home.

Duff asked Linder whether his two boys had been drinking July 4 and 5, but Linder said he didn’t know. He also denied that police told him Justin hit Brown in the face with a pistol and said he did not talk to anyone his sons were with July 4 about that evening.

Linder did tell the court that the boys had an argument with Brown, but he did not elaborate.

“They had a fallout because when she arrived at the Fourth of July picnic, they left,” he said.

Duff alleged that Dale Linder Jr. had a violent past and a reputation for being a “tough guy” in the community, but Dale Linder Sr. said that was not true. Linder said the community was also accepting of Brown’s relationship with a woman.

“They all respected her because she was my sons’ cousin,” he said.

Brown remained silent during the hearing, keeping her head down.

Lorain Municipal Court Judge Thomas Elwell decided the testimonies provided enough evidence for probable cause in the double homicide and the case was sent to grand jury for review of felony charges.

Duff said he believes the preliminary hearing went well in that Dale Linder Sr. said he was not in the kitchen when Dale Linder Jr. was shot — a key point he was hoping to make. Linder also didn’t see Justin Linder get shot, either.

“We are doing our own investigation,” Duff said.

Afterward, Linder said he was advised not to speak about the case, but said he is grateful for the community’s support.

“I want to thank all those for the cards, letters and support from the community,” he said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or

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