Richmond man's murder conviction upheld

Christine Ferretti / The Detroit News

Richmond -- The state Court of Appeals has affirmed the 2008 conviction of a Richmond man who kidnapped and murdered a Washington Township woman and dumped her body in a lake.

The court, in an opinion released Tuesday, disagreed with David Wright's assertion that the trial court erred by denying a motion to suppress a statement he gave police about the June 2007 murder of Marilou Johnson. Wright claims investigators didn't honor his right for legal representation and manipulated his mother, who "deceived" him into waiving his rights.

Wright was convicted of felony murder, kidnapping and larceny in connection with Johnson's June 14, 2007, death. Johnson, 50, was killed in the driveway of the home she shared with her sons and boyfriend. Her body was recovered from Cass Lake in Oakland County on June 27, 2007.

Wright was issued two life sentences on the kidnapping and murder offenses and received two to four years for the larceny charge.

The Appeals Court ruling notes Wright originally told police he'd accidentally killed Johnson and buried her body near his family cottage. He later dug it up over fear cadaver dogs would locate it. Then, he weighed the body down with blocks and dropped it into the lake.

But before his May 2008 trial, Wright changed his story, alleging Johnson was stabbed by her live-in boyfriend. And he testified that he merely disposed of the body, with the understanding that Johnson's boyfriend -- Roger Blanchard -- would compensate him.

Prosecutors, however, said Wright killed Johnson during a robbery and attempted to extort money from Blanchard.

The Appeals Court ruling also disagrees with Wright's challenge of the trial court's refusal to conduct an evidentiary hearing on his competency to waive Miranda rights on claims he'd suffered a head injury as a teen that left him "vulnerable to coercion."

The court also shot down allegations that Wright's due process rights were violated when an alternative motive involving a financial settlement between the victim's children and boyfriend was excluded from trial. Additionally, the court did not agree with an argument that the evidence was insufficient to support Wright's conviction and sentence.

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