:: VanderGiesen’s parents testify in Wright’s death penalty hearing (The Argus Leader) ::

VanderGiesen’s parents testify in Wright’s death penalty hearing

Dee and Gene VanderGiesen.jpg
By Josh Vergas
Published: April 17, 2007

As Gene and Dee VanderGiesen told jurors about their fractured family, their daughter’s killer dabbed her eyes with a tissue.

Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Dave Nelson called only those two witnesses this morning before resting his case for death against Daphne Wright.

Darlene VanderGiesen’s parents described her as the “sparkplug” in the family, a practical joker who loved life.

Gene VanderGiesen said the last time he saw his first daughter was a birthday celebration in Sioux Falls.

“She came across the parking lot, put her big arms around me and gave me a great big hug and said ‘I love you,’ ” he said, holding up three fingers in sign language. “That was the last time I saw her alive.”

Defense attorney Jeff Larson will begin offering mitigating evidence after a break. He said in his opening statement today that he accepts the guilty verdict but there is no reason to end another life.

For the latest updates from the courtroom, keep checking throughout the day here at argusleader.com.

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