The family of Jeff Wright says they never saw it coming. "I consider her some type of animal," says Jeff's father, Ron Wright.
Harris County Prosecutor Kelly Siegler says Susan Wright didn't have to kill Jeff, and that there was a simpler solution: divorce. "She plays the martyr very well," says Siegler. "There's nothing we could find that shows she's telling the truth."
As the trial begins, Siegler knows that the jury could easily sympathize with Susan. "Mitigating factor from Day One was she's a pretty female," says Siegler. "You have to make them see it and feel it and relive what happened to the victim. That's how you make a jury understand how horrible a crime it is."
Siegler reassembled the blood-soaked bed on which Jeff was killed – in the middle of the courtroom, right in front of Susan, Jeff's family and the jury. "The jury needed to appreciate how completely defenseless Jeffrey was when she did it," says Siegler.
Siegler also demonstrated what police believe happened that night, and said it has nothing to do with self defense. Jeff's body was found with neckties knotted around his wrists, and a terry cloth belt around one leg. Siegler told the jury they were used to lash Jeff to the bed: "So if the defendant were to get up on top of Jeffrey Wright - something like this – and straddle him."
Siegler said Susan seduced Jeff into agreeing to be tied to the bed with the promise of unusual sex.
"She seduces him. She gets him nude. She gets herself nude. She ties him up, like they had many times before, lights the candles to make him really think this is going to be a great romantic night."
Siegler says Susan stabbed Jeff after she tied him to the bed. And she says that before Susan killed Jeff, she tortured him, making superficial slices to his penis.
That's a direct challenge to Susan's claim that she killed her husband in self defense, when he came at her with a knife.
Siegler thinks she can prove how the crime happened. Medical examiner Dwayne Wolf confirms that Jeff had used drugs before he was killed. But more importantly, he says that Jeff was tied down while he was stabbed: "Out of his 193 stab wounds, almost all of them were on the front of the body. And if a person is not restrained, they'd be moving. I'd be moving. I would have stab wounds predominantly on my back as I'm heading toward the door."
Siegler has to deal with Susan's claims of abuse. And friends, customers and neighbors all said that Jeff seemed to love Susan – and that they never witnessed any signs of abuse.
But Susan's mother, Sue Wyche, and her friend, Jamie Darr-Hall, testified that they saw bruises on her body.
Jeff also had a checkered past and pled guilty to drug possession and had assaulted a former girlfriend. And Susan had to explain why, at 18, she was a topless dancer for two months.
After the prosecution rests, the stage is set for the most dramatic day of the trial. Accused killer Susan must now take the stand and tell her side of the story – as the star witness at her own trial.
It's up to her to convince the jurors that she was a battered wife, and that her husband attacked her with a knife. To save her life, she said she had to stab him 193 times.
"In his head and in his chest and in his neck and in his stomach and in his leg for when he kicked me," says Susan. "I stabbed him in his penis for all the times that he made me have sex, and I didn't want to and I couldn't stop."
Next, Susan reveals a detail that only her defense team has heard before. She says she stopped stabbing Jeff when she heard a knock at the bedroom door. She says she was covered with Jeff's blood, put on a robe, hid the knife and opened the door. Standing there, she says, was their 4-year-old son, Bradley.
"She's known all along. He heard it and she never told anyone about it," says Siegler. "And my God, what did he see?"
Susan's lawyer, Neil Davis, however, says this admission proves his client is telling the truth about what happened and why: "Who would want to get up there and admit that their child knocked on the door unless it was true? Who would want to get up there and admit they used two knives instead of one unless it was true?"
But Susan also has to explain how ties found on Jeff's hands and leg go there. She says she tied his body to a dolly she used to push him outside: "So that he'd stay on. I kept thinking that he was going to get up."
"Perhaps the most issue I felt, even more difficult than the 193 stab wounds, trying to explain to a jury how Susan thought her husband was still alive even though she just stabbed him 200 times and put him in a hole he dug in his backyard," says Davis.
After five hours of questioning, Siegler gets her chance. She shifts the jury's attention from Susan the mother to her past as a stripper. She also hammers Susan on whether or not she tied Jeff up before stabbing him.
"And when you stabbed him, the 56th time or the 89th time, or the 158th time, was your arm getting tired," asks Siegler. But Susan never wavers.
After eight days of testimony, Siegler has the last word: "What you're left with is the word of Susan Lucille Wright, the word of a card-carrying, obvious, no doubt about it, caught red-handed, confirmed, documented liar."
Now, it's up to the jury to decide, and just as Siegler had feared, jurors have trouble seeing Susan as a murderer. But it's hard for them to forget the blood-soaked bed, and they had it reassembled when they deliberated.
Two days later, they reached a verdict: guilty.
"It's a shock," says Susan. "I just assumed that because what I was saying was the truth that everyone would believe it."
"I had no idea how anyone could look in her eyes and listen to her and not believe her," says Susan's sister, Cindy Stewart.
But it turns out that the jury did do just that – and jurors say her story just "wasn't believable."
What was most troubling to jurors was Susan's motive. They say they couldn't say what happened – what drove her to the edge.
But there were hints during the trial about what might have motivated Susan to murder her husband, including allegations that Susan saw her own mother abused, a charge her mother has denied.
After the trial, Susan's sister, Cindy, says she won't see her parents again, "because I love my sister." She claims their father sometimes beat her and her mother, and Susan saw it. But no one ever called the police.
And Cindy says that explains what happened the night Susan killed her husband: "I understood why she stabbed him so many times. She said she stabbed Jeff for all the times he punched her in the chest. And she stabbed him in the penis for all the times he raped her in the middle of the night. And she stabbed Jeff for my father."
Just as Susan's mother did on the stand, both of her parents denied Cindy's accusations in an off-camera conversation with 48 Hours. They said they've been good and loving parents, and that Cindy's charges have no merit or foundation at all.
Once the jurors convicted Susan, they have to decide her punishment, which could be anything from probation to life. In the end, the jurors give Susan 25 years.
Does Susan regret killing Jeff? "There are days that I miss him, but like I said, that night he was going to live or I was."
Susan's lawyers are appealing her conviction, arguing that Siegler prejudiced the jury with that "bloody bed" re-enactment.
Susan will be eligible for parole in about 12 years, when both her son and daughter will be teenagers. But Jeff's family wants Susan out of the children's lives for good. They're moving to terminate her parental rights. For now, Bradley, 5, and Kaily, 2, are living with Jeff's brother.