HOUSTON – A jury on Tuesday re-sentenced Susan Wright to 20 years in prison – five years less than the original punishment she was given in her 2004 trial.
Wright was convicted of murder in the now-infamous stabbing death of her husband.
Jeffrey Wright was stabbed 193 times and partially buried in a hole in the couple’s backyard.
Susan Wright was granted a new sentencing hearing after a judge ruled she didn’t get adequate representation during the punishment phase of her original trial.
The jury began deliberating Wright’s fate Monday afternoon and came to a decision after nine hours.
In closing arguments, prosecutors portrayed Susan Wright as a murderer, while defense attorneys characterized her as a battered wife who acted out of "sudden passion."
When she killed her husband, Wright used neckties to bind him to their bed and then stabbed him with a kitchen knife from head to toe. His body was found partially buried in a backyard hole Jeffrey Wright had been digging for a fish pond. The family dog unearthed a portion of his corpse.
"You don’t stab someone 193 times for no reason," said defense attorney Tommy LaFon. "It’s the result of years of pent-up frustration, anger, abuse and terror."
LaFon said Wright’s actions amounted to self-defense in a tortured marriage to a drug-addicted and abusive man.
Prosecutors, however, said it was divorce by pre-meditated murder.
They admitted that Jeffrey Wright was not the perfect husband, and that he had a history of drug abuse. But they said Susan Wright began making claims of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband only after he was dead.
"This was a divorce by homicide. She was not a battered woman, but a pissed-off wife," said Assistant District Attorney John Jordan.
Prosecutors asked the jury to sentence Susan Wright to 45 years in prison. The defense asked for as little as 10 years’ probation. The jury gave her 20 years instead, with credit for time served.
"Justice is whatever a jury says it is and this jury basically is saying what the first jury did was the right thing and we have to accept that," said Assistant District Attorney John Jordan.
"Whether you believe she was domestically abused or not, more people got educated in reference to domestic abuse than could have possibly happened any other way," defense attorney Jonathan Munier said.
Ron Wright Jr. defended his brother’s reputation in the family’s victim-impact statement.
"My brother was a kind and thoughtful man who loved life. He’s not here to defend himself but I am. Jeff’s legacy will be his two children who my wife and I are honored to raise. As for Susan Wright, I’ve seen your tears and I realize that over the last seven years they are not tears for remorse. Nor are they tears for what you’ve done to your two beautiful children. You left them parentless. What I’ve seen is that they’re selfish tears, the fact that you have to go back to prison," Ron Wright said.
He said the last words Jeff Wright spoke to his family were, "I love you, Mom."
"The Wright family has been given a life sentence and I think you got off too easy," he added.
Susan Wright apologized to her in-laws after sentencing.
"I just want you to know that I’m sorry. Again I’m sorry. I’m sorry he’s not here. I’m sorry you don’t have your son and your brother and your brother-in-law. And I’m sorry that the kids don’t have their father. I’m sorry that he’s not here," she said.
While the final decision will rest with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Wright could be eligible to be considered for parole in as little as three years.