Category Archives: Wright Case

State’s case stronger, alternate juror says

Hearing the gruesome details of a slaying and chain saw dismemberment was an intensely emotional and draining experience for Lisa Cox.

The Sioux Falls woman, one of three alternate jurors who heard the testimony, thinks that prosecutors presented a stronger case than Wright’s lawyers.

“It’s so exhausting to deal with,” said Cox, 35. “It was information overload some days.”

Her service ended when arguments wrapped up Wednesday and 12 jurors began their deliberations.

Wright was convicted Thursday in the death of Darlene VanderGiesen and could become the state’s first woman on death row.

Cox, a mother of three, said she agreed with the decision her fellow jurors made.

“I think they made the right choice with the evidence we were presented with,” she said.

Given the trial’s outcome, Cox said the prosecution presented a better case, meeting its burden of proof.

She noted that investigators had picked up more than 400 pieces of evidence, and she has a new respect for the amount of work that goes into putting together a murder case.

“There were so many things to consider with it,” she said. “They (prosecutors) did a good job with what they had to work with. The defense presented their case with what they had to work with.”

Cox said the courtroom atmosphere, which was unusual because of the interpreters and screens needed for Wright, was not a distraction for jurors.

“Initially, once we got focused, it was not hard to keep my attention,” she said. “I think they did a good job, keeping her informed and providing that for her.”

Given the gruesome portions of testimony, listening to those details in the complex case was not easy, she said.

Selecting Cox and others for the jury panel was a drawn-out process, with public defender Jeff Larson telling Judge Brad Zell that he hadn’t seen any black prospective jurors among about 140 who entered the courtroom during several days of jury selection.

Wright is black, and the all-white makeup of the jury that convicted her could be the focus of an appeal later on.

Reach reporter Melanie Brandert at 977-3926.

(( Source:  Argus Leader ))