Wright May Get Death Penalty

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The death penalty will be on the table when the murder trial of Daphne Wright begins next month. A judge dismissed a motion by Wright’s attorneys to have the death penalty thrown out in the case of the Sioux Falls deaf woman.

Daphne Wright, who’s been deaf since early childhood, is accused of killing another deaf woman, Darlene VanderGiesen, just over a year ago. Wright’s lawyer argued the death penalty should not apply in her case because of her deafness. But Judge Bradley Zell ruled that the death penalty would not be cruel and unusual punishment if Wright is found guilty.

Experts testified today that Daphne Wright is a bright woman. But that her deafness makes it difficult for her to understand abstract legal concepts, even with trained interpreters in the courtroom. Her lawyers said Wright would not have the same ability to defend herself as a hearing person could and therefore, the death penalty should not apply in her murder trial.

But prosecutors argued that Wright was able to communicate effectively with police investigating the murder of Darlene VanderGiesen. She not only answered questions posed by police, but she also asked questions herself.

The judge ruled that neither the constitution nor state law protects deaf people from capital punishment, citing three cases since 1951 when deaf defendants across the country were given the death penalty.

Darlene VanderGiesen’s parents were in the courtroom. They said they did not contact the judge about their thoughts on the death penalty. And they wouldn’t comment about the ruling. But they did tell me it was difficult sitting through the motions hearing.

Source: Kelo TV News