Wednesday, the same jury that found Daphne Wright guilty of murder, spared her life. It took eight hours of deliberation for the jury to come to the decision which was passed down at 8:30 Wednesday night.Wright will have to spend the rest of her life in prison for the kidnapping, murder, and dismemberment of Darlene VanderGiesen.
The jury did agree unanimously that Wright had a depraved mind when she killed VanderGiesen, which was what the state needed to prove. But the jurors could not all agree Wright deserved to die.
The family of Wright’s victim says they’re glad she got life in prison instead of death.
Darlene’s mother, Dee VanderGiesen, read a statement to Wright in court this evening. She said while there are so many words to describe the hurt that has been placed on their family, she no longer feels revenge towards Wright.
“I just wanted to let her know that we have no hate in our heart for her. That we are praying for her and I honestly hope that someday I will be able to meet her in heaven,” Dee said.
“We have both lost a daughter. You know we’ll never see our daughter again, and they will see theirs maybe once in awhile. She’s never going to be free again, like she said we prayed for her every day. We harbor no ill against her or her family,” Darlene’s father, Gene, said.
“I do sincerely feel deep sympathy for her family there is much grief there, too,” Dee said.
After Darlene’s mother read her statement, the judge asked Daphne if she would like to make a statement. She only shook her head no.
Daphne Wright’s mother was also in the courtroom when the sentence was read. But she declined to comment as she left the courthouse.
Among the other people who were in the courtroom Wednesday night was Sioux Falls police Chief Doug Barthel.
Barthel says this is by far the biggest murder case his department has investigated under his leadership.
The police department had the gruesome task of digging through the landfill looking for Darlene VanderGeisen’s remains and searching Daphne Wright’s house for evidence.
He says he’s happy the VanderGeisens can now put all of that behind them and he hopes the end of the trial will give them some closure.
Barthel says he thought it was his duty to be at the sentencing.
“We’ve been involved in it and became personally attached to it throughout and so we felt it important to be with it all the way to the end,” Barthel said.
Barthel says he supports the jury’s decision to sentence Daphne Wright to life in prison without parole.
(( Source: KELOLAND TV ))