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Susan Wright and others: Wives who kill and claim abuse

Susan Lucille Wright, a young mother of two, was convicted of first-degree murder for stabbing her husband, Jeff, in 2004. The 27-year-old Texas housewife was sentenced to 25 years in jail.

Susan Lucille Wright
CBS

(CBS) - Three shotgun blasts ended life as a battered woman for Kimberley Kondejewski in 1997. The Canadian woman shot her husband John, a military sergeant, after 17 years of marriage.

A jury found her not guilty after hearing testimony that John forced his wife to have sex with other men and wanted Kimberley to commit suicide so he could collect the life insurance.

The same year a Tulsa jury acquitted Erin Dukes for shooting her husband Lee. "Battered woman syndrome" was presented as a part of Dukes' defense which ended in her favor after the two-week trial.

But housewife Susan Polk was unable to convince a jury of her innocence with that argument. Polk was sentenced to 16 years to life for stabbing and killing her husband Felix, a psychologist, in 2002.

Sometime women who kill their husbands claim self-defense, but for many, like for Susan Polk, claims of self-defense and abuse do not convince a jury.

"Seventy to 80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder," says a gripping statement from a fact sheet written by The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). In addition, NCADV says that an estimated "1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year." And many domestic violence cases are not reported to law enforcement by victims.

48 Hours | Mystery has followed a few cases where fearful wives have lashed out in self-defense, killed their husbands to stop the abuse, then faced a judge and jury to answer murder charges:

Jenny Marie Eisenman shot her 28-year-old husband Drew in their apartment. Jenny told police that she was a victim of domestic violence and gunned down her husband in self-defense. Jurors never heard from a witness who said Drew told him he got physical with his wife. Jenny is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence.

Charlene and Danny Hill had been married for 25 years when she shot and killed him in November 2006. Charlene claimed self-defense and told a jury that Danny fractured her ribs in a previous incident, documented in her medical records, and she feared for her life the day he died. The Jury deliberated for two-days but a mistrial was declared. 48 Hours | Mystery originally aired this story in November 2010 and will debut a new program covering new developments this fall.

Susan Wright was convicted for the first-degree murder of her husband Jeff in 2004. She filed an order of protection a few days after she had stabbed Jeff 193 times. Susan testified that she kept the abuse a secret from her family and friends because she feared for her life. She was sentenced to 25 years but on appeal was granted a re-sentencing hearing. 48 Hours | Mystery reports the outcome in a new show this Saturday, March 12, 2011.

  • Crimesider Staff

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