Wright Trial: Coroner Suggests Homicide

By Lou Raguse

Daphne Wright’s lawyers are not contesting evidence surrounding Darlene VanderGiesen’s dismemberment.

But they are vigorously disputing testimony implying the Wright killed VanderGiesen on purpose.

The coroner describes VanderGiesen’s cause of death as: the result of a skull fracture, suffocation, or both. And that was the issue most strongly debated in Monday’s testimony.

Autopsy photos showed VanderGiesen’s main injury before death was a seven-inch skull fracture running along the side of her head. But county coroner Brad Randall testified there was also bruising throughout her head, and that a plastic bag pulled over her head might have actually been what killed her.

Prosecutors are piling on evidence that Daphne Wright dismembered Darlene VanderGiesen with a chainsaw then disposed of the parts. But while questioning Randall, they narrowed the focus to how they believe Wright killed her. State’s Attorney Dave Nelson suggests Wright hit VanderGiesen on the head with a hard object. Then, while she was still breathing, pulled a thick plastic bag over VanderGiesen’s head and tied it at the neck to cut off the oxygen.

Nelson believes that shows premeditation, which the prosecution needs to prove in order for a guilty verdict.

Wright’s attorney Jeff Larson countered by pointing out Randall’s autopsy report says head trauma was enough to cause death by itself. Larson suggests it is possible VanderGiesen accidentally tumbled down the stairs in Wright’s basement and hit her head hard against a pillar. Larson says there’s no way to prove the plastic bag caused death.

But Randall’s conclusions about what happened before the dismemberment favor the prosecution. Randall says it is doubtful VanderGiesen’s head injuries came from a fall down the stairs.

And when asked if he’s ever seen a plastic bag accidentally end up on someone’s head, Randall said:

“A bag over the head is almost always homicide or suicide, unless someone is not old enough to understand the risk.”

The prosecution began to get into DNA evidence late Monday afternoon. DNA places VanderGiesen in the basement and proves a shirt found near body parts in the landfill was worn by Wright.

(( Source:  KELOLAND TV ))