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Parents found guilty in starvation case


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POSTED: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Circuit Court jury found a Honolulu couple guilty yesterday of nearly starving their 12-year-old daughter to death in 2007.

Melvin Wright Jr. and Denise Wright were convicted of second-degree attempted murder involving their daughter, Indigo. Both face life in prison with the possibility of parole. Sentencing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 3.

Indigo weighed 28 1/2 pounds, the size of an average 2 1/2 -year-old, when she was taken to a hospital in January 2007 after she became unresponsive.

Child abuse expert Dr. Victoria Schneider testified that she had never seen a child as emaciated as Indigo. She had a low pulse rate and her body temperature was 92.3 degrees when she was taken to the hospital, compared with the normal 98.6. Indigo also suffered brain damage.

Now 15, she lives in South Carolina with her grandparents and performs at the level of a third-grader.

Last week, Denise Wright testified that fear of her husband and shame of being judged by the public prevented her from seeking medical attention for her daughter. Indigo was home-schooled by her mother in their Kinau Street apartment in Makiki.

;[Preview]    Wright parents found guilty
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The parents of Indigo Wright were found guilty for attempted murder after denying their daughter food and medical care.

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Wright had testified that she wanted her daughter to attend school, but Melvin Wright did not want Indigo “;to wear slippers or talk pidgin.”;

She said Indigo's weight started to plummet after Melvin Wright moved out of their apartment.

The jury deliberated for a day and a half before reaching a verdict yesterday.

Deputy Prosecutor Maurice Arrisgado said he could not comment on the verdict yesterday because of a gag order issued by Circuit Judge Rhonda Nishimura in August 2007.

Defense attorneys had sought the order, citing comments by prosecutors early in the case. It was argued that releasing more details on the case would prejudice the defendants' rights to a fair trial. The gag order is in effect until sentencing.

Deputy Public Defender Debra Loy said in court that she plans to file an appeal.