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Ex: Wright ‘nervous’ after disappearance

Former lover takes stand on day two of trial

By Josh Verges

Daphne Wright’s former girlfriend said Tuesday that the murder
suspect’s demeanor changed after a friend was reported missing.

“Daphne was nervous. She was smoking every minute, kept having a
cigarette every minute,” Sallie Collins told jurors through an
American Sign Language interpreter on day two of Wright’s murder
trial.

“I asked her to calm down and take it easy, what was wrong, and she’d
say, ‘Nothing.’ I was a bit puzzled.”

Wright, 43, is accused of kidnapping and murdering 42-year-old
Darlene VanderGiesen on Feb. 1, 2006, then dismembering and disposing
of her body two days later. Prosecutors say Wright was jealous of
VanderGiesen’s friendship with Collins.

Wright has shown little emotion throughout the court proceedings but
wiped away tears as Collins testified and after her mother showed up
in the morning.

Prosecution witnesses have established a four-hour window on Feb. 3
when Wright had the opportunity to move the body out of the basement
of her 1806 S. Phillips Ave. home.

Collins said she tried to pick Wright up from the house that night,
but Wright didn’t get back for more than three hours.

When Collins returned to the house and asked for an explanation, she
said Wright told her she had gone to a gas station; Collins didn’t
press the matter.

Wright’s roommate, Jacki Chesmore, also a former lover, testified
Wright told her she was late because she had lost her wallet.

More inconsistencies emerged Tuesday in a Feb. 7 videotaped interview
with Sioux Falls police, where Wright changed her story about a
planned meeting with VanderGiesen on the day she disappeared.

Wright told Detective Mike Olson that she canceled a planned meeting
with VanderGiesen at a Pizza Hut. The two were planning a Valentine’s
Day surprise for Collins, but Wright said she called off the meeting
because she had no money.

She admitted later in the interview that she met VanderGiesen in the
parking lot, but she left after a short visit – again because she had
no money. For Olson, that excuse didn’t jibe with Wright’s statement
that she had no intention of eating at the restaurant.

VanderGiesen was reported missing after Pizza Hut employees noticed
her truck abandoned in their parking lot and when she failed to show
up for work for two days.

The two-hour interrogation was Wright’s first contact with police,
who obtained a search warrant for Wright’s body and home before she
left.

Wright insisted she wouldn’t harm VanderGiesen.

“I was shocked that she was missing at the same time we were
originally supposed to meet,” she told Olson.

The interview ended when she asked for a lawyer. Police tracked
Wright’s movement and arrested her three days later.

Jurors also heard testimony Tuesday regarding three e-mails Wright
sent to VanderGiesen a week before her death. Using a pseudonym, she
insulted the woman, called her a “troublemaker” and told her to stay
away from the apartments at 2815 E. 11th St., where Collins lives.

Collins herself told about a Jan. 27 argument at her apartment
between the victim and defendant.

She said Wright arrived while she was spending time with
VanderGiesen. Wright became angry and accused her of trying to
destroy her relationship with Collins. VanderGiesen left the
apartment after extending a middle finger to Wright.

Collins said Wright invited VanderGiesen to the apartment the next
day and apologized for the misunderstanding.

“Everything was quiet and seemed to be OK,” Collins said.

VanderGiesen died five days later of either a blow to the head or suffocation.

(( Source:  Argus Leader ))