July 24 at 00:00
A deaf woman convicted of kidnapping an acquaintance and hacking up her body with a chain saw has been sentenced to life in prison.
In closing arguments prosecutor Dave Nelson said Daphne Wright deserved to die by lethal injection because the mutilation was the act of a depraved mind. Wright's public defender, Jeff Larson, argued that she burned and cut the body as an afterthought and that the slaying was an isolated act motivated by jealousy.
“Do you really think the body was dismembered for some perverse pleasure,” Larson asked the jury, “or because she couldn't figure out how to get a 200-pound body out of the basement?"
The jury of 11 woman and one man decide the state had proved depravity of mind beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard for consideration of the death penalty. But jurors instead opted for life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors said that in a jealous rage Wright kidnapped VanderGiesen, killed her, cut apart her body with a chain saw and burned it. She was jealous of a friendship VanderGiesen had with Wright's former female lover, authorities said.
Wright would have been the first woman on South Dakota's death row and likely the first deaf woman on death row in the nation had she been sentenced to die.