Ms. Wright, the woman referred to as the “blue eyed butcher” was convicted of first degree murder in 2004 and originally sentenced to 25 years in prison. She allegedly stabbed her husband 193 times all over his body and then buried his body in the backyard. However, an appellate attorney had the 25 year sentence overturned.
A new jury was convened in October 2010 to determine a fair and reasonable sentence for Ms. Wright. At the sentencing hearing, defense attorneys presented evidence of both Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Battered Women's Syndrome (BWS) and argued that Ms. Wright killed in the heat of passion after years and years of disgusting physical and sexual abuse. The District Attorney's office argued that Ms. Wright was simply dissatisfied with her married lift and that rather than battered women's syndrome this was “divorce by homicide.” The new jury ultimately sentenced Ms. Wright to 20 years in prison.
As a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles who represents many woman defendants accused of violent crimes such as murder, assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and domestic violence, it is my belief that the effective use of expert psychological testimony to educate the jury about a client's mental health issues should never be underestimated. While not all female defendants accused of crimes suffer from mental health issues, many do. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Battered Women's Syndrome (BWS) are real and tragic conditions which affect many female defendants who find themselves trapped in abusive relationships or who have suffered form repeated physical and sexual abuse. In particular, where a female client is accused of a specific intent crime such as premeditated murder, it is essential for a diligent defense attorney to explore the possibility of presenting psychological evidence which might negate the specific intent element of the crime and result in a conviction on a lesser charge or a dismissal of all the charges.