Wright Trial: Penalty Phase Statements

By Lou Raguse

State’s Attorney Dave Nelson spent little time with opening statements in the penalty phase of Daphne Wright’s murder trial. He told the jury, which has already found Wright guilty of kidnapping and murder, that Wright is guilty of one more thing: subjecting the body of Darlene VanderGiesen to mutilation or serious disfigurement.

Nelson asks the jury to consider the death penalty.

Wright’s lawyer Jeff Larson spent more time, telling the jury:

“I’ve been a criminal defense lawyer for 28 years. And this is the one moment in my professional life I have always feared. I’m used to arguing facts and law. I don’t know how to argue that locking somebody in a prison cell for the rest of their life with no possibility of parole is enough. That my client need not be killed at the hands of the state.”
The aggravating factor the state needs to prove is that Wright displayed a “depraved mind” through the killing and dismemberment.

“Mutilation or serious disfigurement can establish depravity of mind,” Nelson says.

Nelson rested his case after calling VanderGiesen’s parents to the stand.

Larson has called Wright’s mother, a psychologist, and is expected to call one more witness.

The case will be back in the jury’s hands either late Tuesday or early Wednesday.  For Wright to receive the death penalty, the jury must unanimously decide Wright had a depraved mind and that she deserves to die for her actions. If one juror disagrees, Wright will spend life in prison.

(( Source:  KELOLAND TV ))

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