Family erupts in court after plea deal; Widow speaks

Published: Apr. 5, 2007 at 8:29 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2007 at 9:36 AM CDT
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A Wright family member erupted in anger as the plea deal was announced.
A Wright family member erupted in anger as the plea deal was announced.
Dale Mardis in the courtroom Thursday.
Dale Mardis in the courtroom Thursday.
Family members were restrained after the agreement was announced.
Family members were restrained after the agreement was announced.
Courtroom officials escorted Wright's family from the courtroom.
Courtroom officials escorted Wright's family from the courtroom.
The ceiling on the 6th floor of the Criminal Justice Center was damaged after a Wright family...
The ceiling on the 6th floor of the Criminal Justice Center was damaged after a Wright family member kicked a wall.

Mickey Wright's family has been waiting six long years for their day in court. The murder trial of Dale Mardis was set to begin on Monday, but after a plea deal there is no trial and family says no justice.

A bailiff had to restrain Wright's family in the courtroom after the plea agreement was announced.

The daughter of murder victim Mickey Wright exploded after hearing a guilty plea of second degree murder for Dale Mardis, the man who admitted to killing and dismembering her father.

The family addressed the court pleading for a jury trial to move forward- but the guilty plea went through- bringing tears and anger to the family, not only inside the courtroom, but outside as well.

Mickey Wright was a Code Enforcement Officer for Shelby County who disappeared on the job in April 2001.

The last place he visited was commercial property owner Dale Mardis, a man he had run-ins with in the past.

Three years later, Mardis was charged with first degree murder.

He eventually admitted to the killing and destroying Wright's body; a source of incredible grief for Wright's family.

"The body was burned and whatever was left after the burning was dismembered and placed in derelict vehicles which were later crushed," says Prosecutor Tom Henderson.

Action News 5 reporter Andrew Douglas spoke with Wright's widow outside the courtroom.

"I'm sick and tired of this," says Frances Wright. "We have waited and waited and waited. We feel like this is a slap in the face."

Wright insists race played a role in the plea deal, "we just don't think it would have gone the same way had Mickey killed a white man and I am sorry to say that but that's the way I feel."

The prosecutor said it was simply evidence that made him accept the deal of a second degree murder conviction with a mandatory 15 years in prison.

"The evidence of premeditation had diminished considerably," says Henderson.

Evidence or not, Thursday's sentence inflammed wounds for the family whose sadness erupted.

Dale Mardis's wife had no comment.

Mardis' attorneys hope the sentence will give closure to the family but based upon their reaction closure is not on the minds of Wright's family.

Click here to contact Andrew Douglas by email.