The trial played out like a theatrical drama in the case against a woman who was found guilty of stabbing her husband to death. How many stab wounds did it take to kill him? He was stabbed 193 times says the Texas medical examiners office.
Prosecutor Kelly Siegler's dramatic reenactment of the bedroom scene in Susan Wright's murder trial was the talk of the courthouse long after Susan Wright went to prison says CBS news.
Prosecutor Kelly Siegler asked a burly young associate to lie down on the bloody mattress detectives had just set on a bed frame in the Houston courtroom. Removing her heels, straddling him and then picking up a 9-in. kitchen knife, Siegler proceeded to act out in graphic detail her version of how defendant Susan Wright seduced her husband, tied him to their bed with neckties and a bathrobe sash and then stabbed him 193 times—in what she claims was self-defense.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... thirteen," Siegler tells her rapt audience. "A hundred and ninety-three times. Can you imagine how long it took her? Can you imagine how much effort it took? You'd have to take a rest to finish it up." reported People magazine.
Did this demonstration cross the line? Was it over the top? Was it effective? Apparently it was successful. After five hours of deliberation the jury found Wright guilty of murder and sentenced her to 25 years in prison.
Betting Her Life- 48 Hours Special
Prosecutor Kelly Siegler demonstrates in court her version of the events that ended the life of Jeff Wright.
Despite pleas from the defense to not allow the demonstration the Judge determined the theatrics planned by the prosecutor would be allowed inside the Harris County Courtroom and Judge Jim Wallace had the best seat in the house during the prosecutor's performance. Asked if Siegler is a good actress or a good lawyer, Judge Wallace said, "She's both. She's a very good lawyer. She's highly intelligent, but she's been able to polish that skill with a little theatrics. And I think it helps her tremendously."
The day Neal Davis walked into the district attorney’s office and said that he represented a client who’d led him to believe that a body could be found at a small patio home in the heart of the White Oak Bend subdivision, in northwest Harris County was the moment the investigation began said the Texas Monthly Magazine.
He refused to give any additional details, claiming attorney-client privilege. When police officers arrived at the address, they discovered the nude body of 34-year-old Jeffrey Wright, a 220-pound carpet and flooring salesman. He was partially visible in his grave because the Wright family’s dog had dug him up. Jeffrey had been stabbed all over the front of his body.
Neckties were knotted around his wrists, and a bathrobe sash was wrapped around one of his ankles. Inside the house, blood was splattered throughout the master bedroom, including on the bed, the floors, the walls, the ceiling, and the ironing board.
In March 2004, a Houston jury convicted Susan Wright of murder and sentenced her to 25 years for stabbing her husband, Jeff, almost 200 times. Wright has had six years in a Texas penitentiary to reflect on the bloody end to her troubled marriage - while longing for the children she's now legally prohibited from seeing.
Betting Her Life- 48 Hours Special
Jeff and Susan Wright and their two children in happier times.
“My heart hurts for everything that happened. We had two beautiful children. He had a full life ahead of him and so did I," she told "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Richard Schlesinger in an exclusive interview. "Holidays are very hard, birthdays are hard," she says tearing up, "sometimes just waking up and missing everyone, it's very hard."
Prosecutor Siegler doesn't believe a word of it, telling the court, "See, what you're left with is the word of a card-carrying, obvious, no doubt about it, caught red-handed, confirmed, documented liar."
"Do you think a knife just magically appeared in her hand?" Prosecutor Kelly Siegler asked in court. "They're gonna tell you post-traumatic stress syndrome. How about cover-your-tail syndrome. That's what went on that week after she killed Jeffrey Wright."
Jeri Ann Loudon of The Susan Wright Battered Women's and Domestic Abuse Alliance of Texas said in an interview with the Digital Journal:
Susan Wright is a classic victim of domestic violence and spousal abuse. Her husband had a documented history of abusing other women. There are police reports on file as well as the plea agreement he made when accused in a previous incident.
How anyone could stab someone repeatedly almost 200 times and be sane is ridiculous to consider. Only under the duress of repeated and continuous abuse would she be driven to strike back in such an unconscionable manner.
The record shows she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she babbled to herself for days while fearing he was in the halls looking for her to seek revenge. Clearly she was out of her mind and the statements of her family verify a few of the situations of physical violence she suffered at the hands of this abusive man.
You ask why she didn't leave? The answer is because women in domestic violence situations do value and love their husbands and children. Breaking up the family was not her desire, ending the violence and the beatings, preventing her husband from hurting one of the children and stopping the verbal abuse was all she wanted.
Susan wanted the violence to end and domestic abuse to go away and when it didn't she finally snapped. How else could you stab someone over and over 193 times. He finally pushed her over the edge and it ended in this tragic situation and his needless death and the breakup of their family and loss of her children to his brother..
One courtroom observer thought Susan Wright got a raw deal.
48 Hours Special- Betting Her Life
The theatrical demonstration that resulted in a guilty verdict for Prosecutor Kelly Siegler.
"You look at it and you think what happened wasn't right, it wasn't fair, and it wasn't just," said Brian Wice, a prominent appellate attorney.
No stranger to showmanship himself, Wice thought Kelly Siegler's bed scene was over the top and that Susan Wright deserved another chance - a new sentencing hearing before a new jury said Wise on the Betting Her Life- 48 Hours, CBS special.
Judge Wallace agreed to listen to Brian Wice's arguments and decide if Susan deserves a new sentencing hearing before a new jury. There are no guarantees, but right now, it's enough for Susan.
Judge Wallace said asking for a new sentencing hearing is a big gamble.
"The old saying goes, 'be careful what you wish for.' And that's certainly true when you're talking about a person's life and liberty," he said.
What's at stake for Susan Wright? The judge said, "She's walking a razor's edge… and she might get life."
Judge Wallace agreed to a new sentencing hearing before a new jury. This is not to determine if Susan's guilty, but to decide if she gets a different sentence. Susan holds out hope she'll go free, but she could get anything from probation to life.
Jeri Ann Loudon said she is elated with the court's decision and mentions again that not one expert on Domestic Violence, Spousal abuse or Battered Women's Syndrome was ever called to testify in the first trial.
The Judge's ruling was not the news Jeff's father wanted to hear.
"When you got the word that she had been granted a new sentencing hearing, what did you make of that?" Schlesinger asked Ron Wright.
"I felt like throwing up. Literally," he replied.
Asked what he would you like to see happen now, Ron Wright said, "Well, life [in prison] would be nice… don't you think that animals should be locked up and kept behind bars?"
Susan Wright's children, Bradley and Kaily, are now 11 and 8. They were adopted by Jeff's brother and have not seen their mother or father since the night that ended in the heinous and tragic death of Jeff Wright.
Her new sentencing hearing is expected in the fall of 2010.