Category Archives: Wright Case

Wright Trial: Day One Of Penalty Phase Ends

By Lou Raguse

A KELOLAND family told a jury today what Daphne Wright took away from them when she killed their daughter, Darlene VanderGiesen.

The prosecution and defense are arguing whether Wright had a depraved mind when she murdered and dismembered VanderGiesen.

That’s the factor that would make Wright eligible for the death penalty.

Daphne Wright’s lawyer Jeff Larson called witnesses to give the jury a sense of Wright’s background — How her mental development was hindered by her deafness and lack of resources to help her learn life skills. He says the killing was an awful act, which Wright should pay for with life in prison rather than death.

The prosecution presented its entire case by re-entering all the evidence from the trial, then letting VanderGiesen’s parents tell their stories.

Jurors in the Wright’s murder case wept as the father of the victim began to testify.

Gene VanderGiesen told them how his life has been different without the woman he called “daddy’s girl” — his daughter, Darlene VanderGiesen.

Photo Above: Darlene VanderGiesen

He told them what it was like as the murder investigation progressed.

“I had no idea she was basically chopped in half with a chainsaw. I just can’t explain the feeling that a parent has when you go through something like this, and the horrific dismemberment of a body. It’s just more than words can explain.”

There were sniffles among friends and family in courtroom when Darlene’s mother Dee VanderGiesen told the jury what holidays have been like without her daughter.

“You shouldn’t have to visit your daughter’s grave on Christmas,” she said.

Gene VanderGiesen told the jury Darlene’s body is in the Rock Valley Cemetary, but she’s with the Lord in Heaven. And not even the convicted killer herself could hold back the tears while Gene described the last time he saw his daughter alive.

“She came across the parking lot, put her big arms around me and gave me a great big hug and said I love you. And that’s the last time I saw her alive. The last time I ever saw her.”

Both sides finished presenting their cases without Daphne Wright testifiying. The case will go back to the jury Wednesday after closing arguments. It just takes one juror to vote against death for Wright to spend life in prison.

(( Source:  KELOLAND TV ))