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Woman undergoes a death penalty for dismembered slaying

A jealous woman killed her lover's friend, dismembered her body with a chain saw and burnt it. The woman is to undergo a death penalty.

Defense attorneys say there is not enough evidence to convict Daphne Wright, 43, who is charged with kidnapping and murdering Darlene VanderGiesen, whose bone fragments were found in the basement of Wright's home in Sioux Falls.

Wright became upset when her friend, Sallie Collins, befriended VanderGiesen, 42, prosecutor Dave Nelson told jurors. "The reason for this murder? Jealousy," he said.

The three women are deaf and knew each other through the deaf community.

"In her words, she felt Darlene was trying to destroy her relationship with Sallie," Nelson said. "There was no romantic relationship between Darlene and Sallie. They were friends."

Wright was arrested 10 days after VanderGiesen disappeared Feb. 1, 2006.

Nelson said the evidence includes a receipt showing that Wright bought an electric chain saw two days after VanderGiesen disappeared. Another receipt indicates she bought black garbage bags like those found with the body, he said.

Parts of VanderGiesen's body were found in a landfill in Sioux Falls and in a ditch in Minnesota.

Evidence indicates VanderGiesen died of suffocation or a blow to the head or both, Nelson said.

"Within hours of disposing of Darlene VanderGiesen's remains the night before, this defendant embraced Darlene's mother, hugged her, and said she was sorry she was missing and told Darlene's mother that she would pray for her return," he said.

Defense attorney Traci Smith said the evidence focuses on what happened after VanderGiesen died and does not prove Wright kidnapped or killed her.

"I would ask only that you consider the state's motive in relying so heavily on this information when it has no bearing on how Darlene was killed," she said. "You will only hear speculation as to what may have caused the fatal injury to Darlene's skull."

Four men are on death row in South Dakota, which has not had an execution in 60 years.

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