:: Argus Leader Media | Fair trial unlikely, bloggers fear ::

Fair trial unlikely, bloggers fear

Prejudice expected from white, hearing jury

By Josh Verges
Published: April 10, 2007

A Sioux Falls murder trial involving both a deaf defendant and victim – but a hearing jury – has drawn national interest and outcries from deaf people who worry it’s all but impossible to conduct a fair trial.

Daphne Wright – who also is black and a lesbian – could get the death penalty if convicted of kidnapping or murdering Darlene VanderGiesen, who prosecutors say she then dismembered with a chain saw.

At least half of Minnehaha County’s largest courtroom was filled throughout the first week of testimony as prosecutors made their case against Wright. The audience has included friends of the victim and reporters, whose online news reports are being closely watched by deaf advocates concerned that accommodations for Wright are inadequate and that her multiple-minority status makes it unlikely an all-white jury will view the case without prejudice.

“It is obvious that she was targeted because she is (a) lesbian deaf black woman,” wrote Ricky D. Taylor, a deaf and gay Washington, D.C., blogger on RidorLIVE.com.

Elizabeth Gillespie, who keeps a blog under the name Mishka Zena on deafread.com, has tracked coverage of the case from Maryland, where Wright once lived.

“We know that Daphne Wright has four major strikes against her before the beginning of the trial. She is African-American, deaf, gay and woman,” Gillespie wrote. As “a deaf person, she is entitled to a fair trial.” Continue

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