Right Or Wrong?

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

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

But Susan's sister, Cindy, says she saw Susan's bruises: "I've seen bruises all over her arms and legs. I've seen her on two different occasions with a black eye."

Susan's friend, Jamie Darr-Hall, also remembers that black eye: "I think she was being abused quite often."

Susan, however, never reported any abuse to police while Jeff was alive. She even had a second child with him, and says the abuse got worse after their daughter, Kaily, was born.

"She described herself as the wrapping on the package, that it was her job to make things look beautiful on the outside so that no one would wonder what it's like on the inside," says Cindy.

But inside the Wright house, Susan says there was nothing but emotional and physical pain, until Jan. 13, 2003, the last day of Jeff Wright's life.

Susan says Jeff had come back from a boxing lesson, and he had been using drugs. He started to spar with Bradley, who didn't want to fight back. She says he started hitting Bradley and stormed off when his son started crying.

Susan says she comforted Bradley and put him and Kaily, 1, to bed. Then, she says she confronted Jeff for the first time about his problems with drugs and violence.

"I couldn't go on and I was afraid of him. I knew if I left him, he would kill me. But I had to ask him to get help. And that was my big mistake," says Susan. "I wasn't supposed to give him ultimatums. I wasn't supposed to tell him what to do."

She says Jeff exploded, pushed her down on the bed and raped her. A moment later, he was back, this time holding a knife over her head. "I didn't want to die," she says.

Even though Jeff was almost a foot taller than Susan and 100 pounds heavier, Susan says she overpowered him by kneeing him in the groin. She then grabbed the knife, and started repeatedly stabbing him – 193 times.

"I was terrified because he was gonna kill me," says Susan. "I knew the second that I stopped he was gonna get the knife back and then I was gonna be the one that would be dead."

After the attack, Susan says she went into a state of shock that lasted a week. Believe it or not, she says she thought Jeff was still alive.

"I was terrified. I was panicked," recalls Susan. "I thought that as soon as he woke up that he was gonna be mad and I had to get him out of the house."

She buried Jeff's body in a shallow hole on the patio next to the bedroom. It was a hole that Jeff had dug as part of a home improvement project.

"I was so scared. I thought if I put him there and put some dirt on him that he would have a hard time getting out to come after me," says Susan. "I sat on the sofa waiting for him to get up and I watched all night, waiting for him to come back."

That week, Susan cut away the bloody carpet, dragged the blood-soaked mattress to the backyard, painted the blood spattered walls and bought more dirt to pile on top of her husband's body.

But she says she wasn't trying to cover up a crime: "The house always had to be perfect and everything had to be in order and straight and neat. And it wasn't."

Susan told her friend Jamie that she and Jeff had a terrible fight, and he had stormed off. Her friend advised her to call the police, file a report and change the locks. Two days after she killed her husband, Susan went to the police to get an order of protection against him.

"She was very believable to me, very believable. She had bruises on her arms that were consistent as to what she said happened," says Deputy Scott Hall, who photographed cuts on her hands that Susan said she got when Jeff attacked her. "I had thought she'd been assaulted and that she had a legitimate report she was making. I had no reason to suspect anything else."

Five days after killing her husband, Susan says she had a horrible feeling that something was wrong, and talked to her mother about it. "She asked if I killed him, and I just put my head down," says Susan. "At this point, nothing was making sense to me."

Susan's mother knew her daughter needed a lot of help, so she contacted attorney Neal Davis. "She appeared to be completely out of touch with reality," says Davis. "Because she appeared to think that her husband was still alive."

Davis then checked Susan into a psychiatric ward, and contacted the district attorney's office. "All I did was write down an address on the back of my business card," says Davis. "I said, 'There's a dead body at this address, and I can't say anything else.'"

Part II: Right Or Wrong?