Wife wants new trial for husband's killing

HOUSTON More than four years after a jury sent her to prison for 25 years for killing her husband, Susan Wright sat in a Harris County courtroom and cried. This time her tears were for another woman who testified Jeff Wright also used her as a punching bag.

Misty McMichael said, "Hitting, punching, choking, kicking, slapping... Anything."

McMichael was once engaged to Wright. In emotional testimony, she said at least half of her four year relationship with him was filled with violence. She also testified he even kept her locked away in a tiny apartment.

"He would throw me down that staircase whenever he wanted to," she said. "I mean, you could have easily broken your neck or anything falling down that staircase."

McMichael now lives in Chicago with her new baby and husband, Steve McMichael, a former NFL Super Bowl champion. But Misty said she returned to Houston and a painful part of her past because it was the right thing to do.

She finds it strange she was not called to testify during Wright's murder trial. Brian Wice, Wright's appellate attorney, considers it just one of several mistakes Wright's defense lawyers made.

"These well-meaning, inexperienced, over-matched lawyers failed to follow up on that," he said.

Wice believes Wright deserves a new trial or reduced sentence. Harris County prosecutors disagree.

"I think that the verdict was just," said Harris County Assistant Prosecutor Baldwin Chin. "I think that Susan Wright got a fair trial. Neal Davis and Todd Ward represented her zealously and effectively."

[ Read the legal document filed for Wright's appeal ]

In 2004 Wright's high profile trial received national attention. She claimed she stabbed Jeff Wright 193 times and then buried his body in the backyard because she was afraid of the man who'd beat her for years. Wrights tearful testimony and prosecutor Kelly Seigler's reenactment of the crime on the blood stained mattress hallmarked the dramatic trial. In the end, a jury found the Houston mother guilty and punished her with 25 years.

The woman who stood up for Wright today in court thinks if the jury heard her story, the outcome would have been different.

McMichael said, "Jeff Wright was not a victim in any way, shape or form. Susan is the victim in there."

Relatives of Jeff Wright disagree with that.

"We're just praying that justice prevails," said Jeff's father Ron Wright.

The judge listening to the hearing will not get the final decision in this case. He will only grant an opinion. The Criminal Court of Appeals justices are the ones who could give Susan Wright a new trial or adjust her sentence.

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