A serial rapist who stalked his victims and collected tokens from his crimes was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison in an emotional hearing that included statements from the defendant’s mother and two of the young women he attacked.
Two dozen people packed into Superior Court Judge Larry Card’s courtroom for the sentencing, which had been hammered out in a plea agreement earlier this year and accepted by Terral Wright at the eleventh hour, just as jury selection for his trial was set to begin.
Under the agreement, Wright, 24, pleaded no contest to three counts of rape and one count of first-degree burglary in return for a sentence of 20 years to serve and 10 years of probation after he is released. Card also hung 11 years of suspended time over Wright, which he can be made to serve if he violates probation.
In urging Card to accept the agreement, prosecutor Taylor Winston stressed that it was not one the state entered into lightly.
“The nature of this horrific crime was just that—horrific,” Winston said. “It is every woman’s nightmare to have a masked man come into their home . . . and rape them.”
The attacks, which took place over a five-month period in 2002, were brutal, Winston said. The women were jumped in a place where they thought they were safe. They were beaten. One had her genitals washed with a solvent to destroy evidence. Another was raped while a baby cried nearby.
All three victims were acquaintances of Wright’s who had in some way rebuffed him romantically, Winston said. Wright knew the women’s schedules and who lived with them, she told the judge.
“These weren’t random acts. . . These were very calculated, predatory maneuvers.”
Another victim, 17 at the time she was attacked, told the judge through tears that she has been in counseling since and is still struggling with it. Reading from a prepared statement, she said what Wright did to her has made her afraid of men, and in particular of black men—Wright’s race, as well as the judge’s. She said she’s struggled with alcohol abuse and weight gain and loss, and that she is afraid when Wright gets out of jail, “he’s going to try to find me and stalk me again.”
“Can you please help me put this case to rest?” she asked the judge.
Wright’s mother, who was also given a chance to address the court, told the judge her son was a good man and that he was innocent and that if he had been given a better attorney, “the truth probably would have come out.”
Judge Card reminded her that her son pleaded to the charges against him. “I’m a parent and a grandparent—I understand what you’re feeling,” he said. But, he continued, “He is guilty.”
“I love my son,” the woman said.
“I know you do,” Card said.
As the hearing drew to a close, Wright, dressed in a yellow prison jumpsuit, addressed the court. “I’d just like to say that from the bottom of my heart, from deep within myself, I am truly, truly sorry . . . for everything that has happened.”
The one thing Wright did not do was acknowledge he was responsible for his victims’ pain. Judge Card pointed that out to Wright just before handing down his sentence. Card said he felt bad for Wright’s victims and his mother.
As bailiffs led Wright away, the victim who had pleaded with the judge to help end the case started crying in the front row. People gathered around her, blocking the exit of Wright’s family.
“Please, can we get out!” Wright’s mother said, interrupting the emotional moment. She nudged past people to get to the door, cursing at the victim as she went by.
People stood still, stunned.
“That’s disgusting,” a man said in disbelief.
As Wright’s mother reached the exit, a bailiff standing there started to say, “Let me tell you something,” but she walked out the door.