Donna Lee Darling at her first court appearance in August 2012
Donna Lee Darling, 61, pleaded guilty to the charge of assault on an elder, causing suffering, in San Diego Superior Court today, May 20.
In exchange for the plea, a charge of attempted murder was dropped. Darling could have gotten four years for the felony assault charge; however, she is expected to get 365 days in local custody at her sentencing set for June 18, the judge said.
The 92-year-old victim, Benjamin Farber, testified at a hearing in January of 2013. Farber said his longtime friend came to visit him at his mobile home in Oceanside, and he was resting in bed when she put a pillow over his face “with great force.”
The victim said he took Darling out of his will “since this incident.”
Darling was arrested the same day as the pillow incident — August 16, 2012. She soon posted $100,000 bail and has been at liberty nearly two years.
Darling effectively hid behind her defense attorney, Herb Weston
This morning, on the day set for trial, Darling stepped forward to admit the assault. She stood behind her private defense attorney, Herb Weston, and fidgeted with purple rosary beads while she answered the judge.
After the hearing, prosecutor Ryan Saunders said, “I consulted with the victim before accepting the plea to be sure he would be happy with the result.”
The prosecutor said he was pleased the elderly man “lived to see justice” and that Farber may choose to speak at the sentencing hearing next month.