Five Questions (plus one)
Houston's criminal defense media magnet Brian Wice believes in Susan Wright, notmarriage
Local legal eagle Brian Wice, who never shies away from the spotlight and has been the legal analyst for KPRC-TV since 2003, will be basking in the glow this week. The 55-year-old attorney was honored by the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association as their Attorney of the Year at a banquet at the Hyatt Regency Thursday, just two days before CBS’s 48 Hours runs a piece on his current high-profile catch — the Susan Wright murder case.
Convicted in 2004 of killing her husband by stabbing him 193 times and partially burying him in the backyard, Wright is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence. She's won a new punishment trial though, thanks to Wice.
Wice talked to CultureMap about Wright (and his battered wife syndrome argument), what Houston restaurant he plans to watch Saturday's broadcast in and the chances of wedding bells in his future. He even worked in a joke about Quanell X.
The man can talk. So much so, that we couldn't even limit him to our usual five questions. With Brian Wice, you always get more.
CultureMap: How did you get involved in the Susan Wright case?
Brian Wice: I covered the case for Court TV. She was sentenced to 25 years because the jury rejected her claim of sudden passion. Her husband had abused her for years, yet her attorneys didn’t put on a proper defense of that. Trying this case without a battered wife expert was like doing Hamlet without Hamlet. I’m an appellate attorney, a lawyer of last resort, this is what I do.
CM: Prosecutor Kelly Siegler won national acclaim by recreating the stabbing scene on the bed in this trial, a very sensational move.
BW: Hey, a girl’s gotta eat. She did her job, I don’t begrudge her for what she did, and she got a TV pilot out of it. But she kicked their butts and took their lunch money, the defense attorneys were bullied by her. If it had been a Little League game they would have stopped it on a mercy call. I don’t begrudge Siegler, but Susan’s council was incompetent.
CM: So you felt compelled to take on Wright’s appeal, but did the media aspect play into it at all?
BW: I knew there would be some pub, but if you think any high profile case has a shelf life over the marriage of Liza Minnelli and David Gest you’re wrong. I thought I’d file a brief, hold a press conference and maybe write a book. Five and a half years latter and a couple of hundred thousand dollars in pro bono, plus going into my own pocket for expenses, I’m still here. But I stuck to it. I believe Susan got a raw deal.
After all this time, I have to say there are few things that leave me speechless but the ruling for a new punishment hearing for Susan was one of them. That appellate court is the most conservative, winning the new hearing was about as frequent as Hailey’s Coment.
CM: So, last October you won a new punishment hearing for Wright, now what?
BW: Well, sure, she could get life, but I’m here to tell you that attorney Kent Schaffer and I are prepared to put spousal abuse on trial and we will get a whole lot, a whole lot, better than 25 years. Hopefully the new D.A will offer us a deal before we even get to that.
CM: So what are you planning for the 48 Hours broadcast?
BW: I think what we might do is go to dinner with some married friends to Pesce or Armandos where’s there’s a TV.
CM: And speaking of married, any wedding bells in your future?
BW: I’m the world’s most eligible Jewish bachelor, which is like being the coolest Osmond brother. There are three unanswered questions in life: Is there life after death? What does Quanell X do for a living? And is Brian ever going to get married?