Susan Wright (murderer)

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For Susan White, a 1992 murder victim in the Houston, Texas, area, see List of killings by law enforcement officers in the United States prior to 2009.
Susan Wright
Born Susan Lucille Wyche
(1976-04-24) April 24, 1976 (age 40)[1]
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Criminal penalty 20 years
Criminal status Incarcerated at Crain Unit Correctional Facility in Gatesville, Texas[1]
Spouse(s) Jeffrey Andrew Wright (deceased)
Conviction(s) First-degree murder

Susan Lucille Wright (born April 24, 1976) is an American woman from Houston, Texas, who made headlines in 2003 for stabbing her husband, Jeff Wright, 193 times and then burying his body in their backyard.[2] She was convicted of first-degree murder in 2004, and is currently serving a 20-year sentence at the Crain Unit in Gatesville, Texas.[1] She became eligible for parole consideration on 28 February 2014.

Early life[edit]

Susan Lucille Wyche was born on April 24, 1976, in Houston, Texas, to Sue Whella (née Tschoepe) and Jimmy Lawrence Wyche. At the age of 17, she worked as a topless dancer at Gold Cup for two months. In 1997, while working as a restaurant waitress in Galveston, she met Jeff Wright and they married in 1998 while she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with their first son, Bradley. In 2002, a daughter, Kailey was born. Mrs. Wright claims that her husband began to abuse her during the first few years of their marriage.[3]

She resided in the White Oak Bend subdivision of Houston.[4]

Crime[edit]

According to evidence presented by the prosecution, on Monday, January 13, 2003, Susan Wright, 26, tied her husband, Jeff Wright, 34, to their bed and stabbed him 193 times with two different knives. She then buried his body in their Houston backyard. She attempted to cover up the crime scene by painting the bedroom. The next day, Wright filed a domestic abuse report in order to get a restraining order against her husband.

On January 18, Wright asked her attorney, Neal Davis, to come to her home and admitted to stabbing her husband. Davis contacted the Harris County district attorney's office to inform them a body was buried under Susan Wright's house and that she had confessed to the crime.

Wright turned herself in to authorities at the Harris County Courthouse on Friday, January 24 and was arraigned on murder charges the following Monday.[2]

Trial[edit]

Thirteen months after her arraignment, Susan Wright's murder trial commenced on February 24, 2004.[5] She had already pleaded not guilty to killing her husband by reason of self-defense.

Wright's prosecutor and defense attorney had very different portrayals of her.

Assistant district attorney Kelly Siegler depicted Wright as a scheming wife who seduced her husband into bed, tied him up, repeatedly stabbed him, and then buried his body in their backyard, all in hopes of collecting a $200,000 life insurance policy. Wright's defense attorney Neal Davis claimed that his client had suffered years of physical and emotional abuse by her husband, and killed him to protect herself and her two young children.[5]

At her trial, Susan Wright testified in her own defense. In her emotional testimony on the stand, Wright claimed: "I couldn't stop stabbing him; I couldn't stop. I knew as soon as I stopped, he was going to get the knife back and he was going to kill me. I didn't want to die." She testified that on the night of the murder, Jeff Wright was on a cocaine binge and was violent, having allegedly beaten her. Wright once again persisted that she stabbed her husband in self-defense. Susan Wright's mother, among others, testified for the defense, claiming they witnessed Wright's bruises.

Siegler said Wright's tears were faked for the jury's benefit. The prosecution presented an unusual demonstration by bringing the Wrights' actual bed into the courtroom.[6]

During closing arguments, Siegler brought up to the jury how Wright had been a topless dancer, and said she believed Wright's emotions were insincere. She contended that Susan Wright was a "card-carrying, obvious, no-doubt-about-it, caught-redhanded, confirmed, documented liar", whose frequent shows of emotion during the trial were deliberate efforts to influence the jury.[7]

Verdict[edit]

Christina Crain Unit, where Wright is held

On March 3, 2004, after five-and-a-half hours of deliberations, Wright's jury convicted her of murder. In contrast to her emotional testimony during the trial, Wright showed little reaction to the guilty verdict.[8]

The following day came Wright's sentencing. Prosecutors were hoping for at least a 55-year sentence, while Wright's attorneys argued for probation for their client. In the end, the jury met in the middle, sentencing Wright to 25 years in prison.[9]

She is currently (2016) inprisoned at the Crain Unit, under SID Number: 04835513.[1]

Appeal[edit]

In 2005, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas in Houston upheld Susan Wright's conviction.[10]

With a re-appeal in 2008, a new witness, Misty McMichael, the wife of former NFL Super Bowl champion Steve McMichael and ex-fiancee of Jeff Wright, came forward to tell her story of how she endured abuse and violence during her four-year relationship with Jeff Wright.[11]

In 2009, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Wright a new sentencing hearing, after determining that Wright's “counsel rendered ineffective assistance during the punishment phase of trial” in 2004.

According to the evidence adduced during the 2010 punishment trial, it was shown that the prosecution's theory that Jeff was tied to the bed was not supported by the medical examiner who excavated the body. The medical examiner testified that Jeff had a significant amount of cocaine in his body the night he died - so much so that Jeff's body had not metabolized all the cocaine. The cocaine evidence supported the defense's assertion that Jeff was intoxicated the night of his death, when he came home from a boxing class and punched his son. Jeff also had several knife wounds on his hands, forearms, back, and the backs of his legs, indicating defensive wounds inconsistent with being tied to a bed.

On November 20, 2010, Wright had her sentence cut to 20 years in prison, five years less than her original sentence.[10] Wright has been eligible for parole since February 28, 2014, at the age of 38.[1][needs update]

In popular culture[edit]

Wright's murder trial had been nationally televised on CourtTV. Wright's case was also profiled on Snapped in 2004, 48 Hours Mystery in 2005, on an E! special entitled Women Who Kill, on the Deadly Women episode "Lethal Love" on ID in 2011, and on an episode of Secret Lives of Stepford Wives in 2014.

Wright's case was also the subject of the 2012 Lifetime original movie, Blue Eyed Butcher, starring Sara Paxton and Lisa Edelstein.

In 2014, Canadian director Chloe Bellande released a seventeen-minute short-film entitled Will of Fortune, which was inspired by the murder trials of Wright and Guy Turcotte, a man who had stabbed his two children to death in Canada. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2014.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e SID Number: 04835513. "TDCJ Offender Details". offender.tdcj.texas.gov. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Kristen Hays (2003-01-24). "Woman accused of stabbing husband 193 times". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  3. ^ "Jeff Wright - Susan Wright - The Brutal Torture Murder & The Cover Up". Crime, Mystery, & Mayhem. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  4. ^ Hollandsworth, Skip. "193" (Archive). Texas Monthly. February 2010. Retrieved on January 19, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Andrew Tilghman (2004-02-24). "Abused wife or murderer? Woman accused of stabbing husband 193 times goes on trial". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  6. ^ "Wife On Trial for Stabbing Husband 193 Times". Good Morning America. 2004-03-02. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  7. ^ Andrew Tilghman (2004-03-02). "Wright case goes to jury after graphic testimony. Deliberations to resume Wednesday". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  8. ^ Andrew Tilghman (2004-03-03). "Susan Wright guilty of murder for stabbing husband 193 times". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  9. ^ Kristen Hays (2004-03-05). "Woman sentenced to 25 years for stabbing husband". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  10. ^ a b "Houston jury reduces Susan L. Wright's sentence by five years". Texas Lawyer Blog. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  11. ^ "Wife wants new trial for husband's killing". ABC News. 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  12. ^ Gabrielle Lauzier-Hudon (May 22, 2014). "Des paysages et réalisateurs longueuillois…. à Cannes!" (in French). TVRS.