'Sudden passion' key to grisly Houston stabbing case
It's been more than six years since jurors last saw the king-sized mattress saturated with Jeffrey Wright's blood. Or the photos showing 193 stab wounds from head to toe on Wright's body.
The images were key evidence in the 2004 murder conviction of Susan Wright, who tied her husband to the bed and stabbed him to death in the couple's northwest Harris County home.
Sentenced to 25 years in March 2004, Wright now is getting a second chance at the punishment phase because of ineffective assistance of counsel in her trial. Defense lawyers are expected to argue Wright killed in "sudden passion" and her punishment should be capped at 20 years.
"They're still very, very disturbing," Assistant Harris County District Attorney Connie Spence said Monday of the photos. "And that's why we need to show them."
The 34-year-old, dressed in a red sweater, gray pants and wearing glasses sobbed quietly as the photos were shown while a medical examiner testified about slashes, cuts and stabs all over her husband's body.
Dr. Dwayne Wolf pointed out an X-ray that showed Wright broke the point of the knife off in the top of her husband's skull.
Jurors saw close-ups of almost 200 wounds, including gashes across Wright's face that cut his left ear in half and punctured an eyeball.
Wolf also said he dug through the family dog's feces to find bones from Wright's fingers — his left hand rising from the shallow grave in the backyard he was buried in for a week.
His wife told friends and family that he left her and the couple's two children. She told several people he took off, walking, without his wallet, keys or phone, prosecutors said.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last year decided Wright deserved a chance to convince a different jury that she is entitled to a more lenient sentence.
She said she was continuously abused and raped the night of the killing.
In her first trial, Wright told jurors that her husand threatened her with a knife while he was high on cocaine. She said she wrestled the knife away and stabbed him.
Attorney Brian Wice successfully argued that jurors should have heard from Jeffrey Wright's former fiancé and an expert on battered women syndrome.
If jurors decide against sudden passion, Wright could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The trial in state District Judge Jim Wallace's court is expected to last about two weeks.
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