DA calls Jeffrey Wright's death 'divorce by homicide'
Defense lawyers today called Susan Wright a "mouse" who acted in sudden passion when she stabbed her husband almost 200 times in the couple's bed.
Wright was convicted in 2004 of killing 34-year-old Jeffrey Wright at the couple's northwest Harris County home Jan. 13, 2003. An appellate court granted her a new punishment phase of the trial, which began two weeks ago.
During closing arguments this morning, prosecutors and defense lawyers sparred over almost every point in the case including whether Jeffrey Wright was tied to the couple's bed when he was stabbed 193 times.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this was a fight," defense Lawyer Tommy Lafon argued. "The physical evidence does not support a theory that he was tied to the bed."
Prosecutors immediately pointed to ligatures found with Jeffrey Wright's body and said both hands and his left leg were bound.
"He was in the center of the bed," Assistant District Attorney John Jordan said as he waved a butcher knife around the courtroom.
Jordan also used a second knife, the murder weapon, to pantomime the stabbing, counting out wounds by 10's.
"10, 20, 30 ... " he yelled while pacing in front of jurors. "190, 191, 192, 193."
He also tried to refute Susan Wright's contention that she was a battered wife — the crux of her defense.
"This was a divorce by homicide." Jordan said, "She was not a battered woman, but a pissed off wife."
Defense attorney Jonathan Munier called Wright, "an absolute mouse."
"She has been in a virtual hell for a long, long time," Munier said. "She had black eyes. She had bruises."
Munier called Jeffrey Wright a drug addict who hit his wife and his son and who still haunts Susan Wright.
"How do you kill a damn devil? You can't. He's still here," Munier said.
Prosecutors said Jeffrey Wright may have used drugs, fallen behind on the couple's bills, and not come home on time.
"Those are adequate reasons to get a divorce," said Assistant Harris County District Attorney Connie Spence. "Those are not adequate reasons to kill a man."
Spence told jurors that Wright knew what she had done was wrong, evidenced by the fact that she buried her husband in a shallow grave in the backyard rather than calling police.
"Susan Wright made sure that Jeff Wright would never be able to tell his side of the story," Spence said. "Whether it was the 1st stab, the 42nd stab or the 123rd stab, she made sure he would never be able to speak."
Susan Wright sobbed softly through the closing arguments as Munier and Lafon asked jurors to give her probation
"You don't stab someone 193 times for no reason," Lafon repeated several times in his closing arguments. "It's the result of years of pent-up frustration, anger, abuse and terror."
Wright faces a punishment ranging from probation to life in prison, and must serve at least half before being eligible for parole.
In 2004, Wright was sentenced to 25 years after her conviction.
An appeals court granted a second punishment trial after attorneys for Wright successfully argued that she had ineffective counsel.
Attorney Brian Wice convinced the appellate court that the first jury should have heard testimony from Jeffrey Wright's former fiancé and an expert on battered women.
If jurors decide Wright acted in sudden passion, her new sentence will be capped at 20 years.
During the two-week trial jurors saw crime scene photos of a blood soaked king-sized mattress. Autopsy photos of Jeffrey Wright, with stab wounds through his face, chest and extremities were also shown.
Jeffrey Wright was found almost a week after his death buried in a hole he had dug to install a fountain, his hand emerging from the ground.
State District Judge Jim Wallace sent jurors to deliberate immediately after closing arguments.
During the first trial, former Assistant Harris County District Attorney Kelly Siegler tied another prosecutor to the bloodied bed in the courtroom, climbed on him and acted out the stabbing.
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