Current Affairs

Lesbian chainsaw murderer spared death penalty

PinkNews Staff Writer April 19, 2007
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A deaf, black lesbian woman convicted of the murder of an alleged rival will not be put to death.

Commentators had widely discussed the possibility that Daphne Wright might become the first woman ever sentenced to death in the state of South Dakota.

Wright, 43, was found guilty of murdering Darlene VanderGeisen and cutting up her body with a chainsaw.

The jury found Wright guilty last week and yesterday said that they want her to serve a life sentence, rather than death by lethal injection.

Prosecutors had called for the death penalty because Wright had dismembered the body.

The court was told that Wright was jealous of the amount of time her ex-partner was spending with Ms VanderGiesen, who was heterosexual and also deaf.

On 1st February last year, Wright met with the murdered woman and either suffocated her or killed her with a blow to the head.

Wright bought a chainsaw two days after Ms VanderGiesen’s disappearance.

Witnesses linked bed sheets and bags in which the murdered woman’s remains were discovered to Wright.

The jury was selected from an all-white shortlist, and the defence had questioned if that was fair.

“I think they reached this decision independently of any of the diversions of race, of deafness or anything else. I think they decided this case on the evidence,” prosecution lawyer Dave Nelson told jurors, according to the York Dispatch.

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