Right Or Wrong?

Was Susan Wright Pushed To The Edge When She Killed Her Husband?

This broadcast originally aired on July 23, 2005. It was updated on Dec. 26, 2007.

It's hard to say what's most horrifying: how Jeff Wright was killed, who killed him, or why she says she did it.

The woman accused of committing murder is Jeff's wife, Susan, 27, a stay-at-home mother of two. "I did not want to die," says Susan, who now faces life in prison.

"This was a brutal, terrifying, sadistic relationship that spanned years," says Susan's attorney, Neil Davis.

Susan Wright stabbed her husband 193 times. And Davis says he believes that Susan's husband, Jeff Wright, triggered the attack that ended his life: "I hate to say it, but some people just deserve killing."

That's how a lot of Texas lawyers interpret self defense. But what makes this case different is that Susan and her lawyers are saying it on the record. "She had to kill or be killed," says Davis.

Correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports.

It wasn't that long ago that Jeff, a successful carpet salesman, was smothering Susan with kindness. Susan was a waitress when they first met in 1997 on the beach in Galveston, Texas.

"He would call two or three times a day," recalls Susan. "When he was around me, he would bring flowers and little gifts and stuff. He was very sweet."

A year later, they married, and Susan was already eight months pregnant with their son, Bradley. "He wanted a house. He wanted a family and a dog, and it just seemed great," says Susan, who says things were good until Bradley was born.

"Then, everything changed," says Susan, who claims that Jeff became controlling and demanding. "Everything inside the house was my job, including Bradley, everything I needed to make everything perfect … Bradley needed to be clean and quiet all the time. The house had to be spotless, all the laundry done, all the cooking. It got to be pretty hard."

Susan says Jeff would yell at her the few times she complained and says this was a side that he never showed her while they were dating. It wasn't long, she says, before Jeff started beating her. It happened, she says, after Jeff had smoked pot.

"He threw me back against the wall and he grabbed me by my arms and shook me up against the wall and then punched me in the chest," says Susan. "He made me feel like it was my fault, because I didn't have a right to tell him not to touch his son."

Susan's sister, Cindy, a psychologist with a Ph.D., tried to intervene once, and moved her and the children to her parent's house. But they only stayed there overnight. According to Susan, "a moving van showed up the next morning and took me back home."

Why did she go back just a day after she was beaten? "I didn't have a choice," says Susan. "I was afraid of him, but as much as I was afraid of him, I loved him, and I wanted to be good enough to where things work."

But things got worse, and there were more drugs and more abuse.

Jeff's father, Ron Wright, says he knew his son had a drug problem, but that it was under control. He also says that the claims of physical abuse were all lies.

"She didn't have any symptoms of being an abused woman," says Ron Wright. "We don't abuse women. We love our women."