:: The Rapid City Journal | Graphic testimony heard at trial ::

Graphic testimony heard at trial

By Carson Walker, The Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS — Jurors in the trial of a deaf woman accused of killing and dismembering an acquaintance heard graphic, emotional testimony Thursday on how the victim’s remains were found.

Daphne Wright, 43, the first female defendant in a South Dakota capital punishment case, is charged with kidnapping and killing her ex-lover’s friend, Darlene VanderGiesen, 42, on Feb. 1, 2006.

Jessica Lichty, a forensic chemist with the Sioux Falls Police Department’s crime lab, described how VanderGiesen’s pelvis and thighs, feet and lower legs were found at the local landfill and the upper body was later found intact in a Minnesota ditch.

“Her facial features were visible and recognizable,” Lichty said.

Prosecutors have said Wright killed VanderGiesen, then used a chain saw in the basement to dismember her body and burn part of it.

Lichty said she went to the Sioux Falls landfill Feb. 11, 2006, after searchers found feet and lower legs. She logged them as “Jane Doe/Darlene VanderGiesen.”

Two days later at the autopsy, she took samples of bone and muscle tissue, which prosecutors have said match fragments found in Wright’s basement.

Another portion of the body, the lower torso, was found Feb. 21, 2006, — “just below the belly button and then just below the knee joints for both legs,” Lichty said.

On March 28, 2006, the upper part of VanderGiesen’s body was found just inside the Minnesota border near Interstate 90.

The upper torso, from just below the belly button up, was intact, Lichty said. The right arm and hand were more decomposed because they were exposed to the elements and two small bones in the forearm were broken, she said. Continue

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