Susan Wright sentenced to prison again

November 2, 2010 4:07:20 PM PDT
It's probably not exactly the decision Susan Wright was hoping for. The second day into their deliberations, the jury in her resentencing trial returned with a punishment and it will keep Wright in prison, for now. The prosecution wanted 45 years and the defense wanted probation -- neither got what they wanted. Instead, Susan Wright got 20 years in prison. That's five years less than what she got on her original sentence. There was something new though as she apologized for killing her husband.

"I just want you to know that I'm sorry," Susan Wright nearly whispered to her husband's family. "I'm sorry that you don't have your son, and your brother, and your brother-in-law. And I'm sorry that the kids don't have their father."

It was the first time we heard from Susan Wright during the entire resentencing trial. She apologized for an act the jury ruled was not a crime of passion, sentencing her to 20 years in prison for stabbing her late husband Jeffrey nearly 200 times. It was five years less than her original punishment.

"Am I disappointed as a lawyer? Absolutely," said defense attorney John Munier. "Am I disappointed as a citizen with what the prosecution did? No."

It took the jury about 10 full hours to return the sentence, stunning prosecutors, when at one point they had asked a question about probation.

Prosecutor Connie Spence said, "I got to be honest, it was a little worrisome."

In the end, however, the jury picked a punishment that was neither the least severe nor the maximum of life in prison.

"Justice is whatever a jury says it is," said prosecutor John Jordan.

Wright won the resentencing trial after evidence of battered wife syndrome was not allowed in her first trial.

"I'm gratified that a jury that heard evidence absolutely critical to this case found that Susan was left morally blameworthy," Brian Wice, her pro-bono appellate lawyer told The Associated Press. "To try a case involving a battered woman, without a battered women's expert is like doing Hamlet without Hamlet."

But Wice said he's disappointed that the second jury did not also find that Wright acted on 'sudden passion' and give her probation because "if she would have walked out of jail today," she would be of no danger to anyone else.

"She's a woman who snapped," he said.

Prosecutors say Wright was lying and wanted to cash in her husband's $200,000 insurance benefits and that's why she didn't seek a divorce.

Wright, who has always claimed her spouse physically abused her, tied her husband's ankles and wrists to their bed before stabbing him at their Houston-area home on Jan. 13, 2003. She buried his body in a backyard hole he had dug for a fountain, and cleaned and painted the bedroom to cover up the crime.

The couple's young son and daughter were asleep and didn't witness the killing.

Jeffrey Wright's family, who argued against the characterization that he abused his wife, reacted emotionally to the sentence.

Jeffrey's brother Ron Wright read a victim's impact statement in court, "I've seen your tears and I realized that over the last seven years, they are not tears for remorse, nor are they tears for what you've done to your two beautiful children. You left them parentless. The Wright family has been given a life sentence and I think you got off too easy."

Wright does get credit for the time she has already served, about six years and eight months, so she will be eligible for parole in about three and a half years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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