Oxford murder case: Wright agrees to plea in uncle's death

Apr. 05, 2013 @ 02:03 PM

Michael Sharron Wright told a judge he was guilty of second-degree murder Friday in Granville County Superior Court, accepting a sentence of at least 14 years, and up to 17.5 years to serve.

Wright, 29, sat without further comment as Assistant District Attorney Cindy Bostic summarized evidence in the case and Judge Elaine Bushfan pronounced guilt, officially setting the penalty at 168-211 months, with credit for all time served since his arrest Jan. 25, 2010.

Bostic said Wright killed his 54-year-old uncle, Kirk Douglas Wright Sr., on Jan. 17, 2010, a Sunday during which the men had been seen watching football together at the 611 Granville St., Oxford, home where both lived.

Kirk Wright’s daughter notified police three days later that he was missing, and an investigation led to discovery of a burn pile in the residence’s backyard, and later to the partially burned body buried in a shallow grave in a wooded area at the end of Fourth Street.

A representative of the Wright family and their friends in court read from a written statement addressed to Michael Wright, indicating they had been there for him, and his uncle had also been there for him, who would go to his basketball games, supporting him and looking forward to seeing him succeed in life.

The case had been a capital first-degree murder charge in which prosecutors could have sought the death penalty, according to court files.

Kirk Wright’s daughter, Davina Bowden told The Dispatch after the sentencing hearing that the family was bearing a double tragedy because of love for both Kirk and Michael Wright.

“I was close to my father, and Michael, though a cousin, he was like a brother to me. There are no winners in this situation,” Bowden said. “My father loved people. He cared about people, especially his family. He had a lot of friends in Oxford, and he was taken away.”

Evidence in the case included matching material samples from a brown cloth at the burn pile site and the “excavation” site of the body and matching soil samples from both sites, supporting the theory that the body had been moved to the shallow gravesite from the backyard of the residence.

A report from the N.C Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill confirmed asphyxiation as the cause of death.

Bostic told Bushfan that investigators took a statement from Michael Wright the day after the body was found, “and he said, ‘it was an accident, I didn’t mean to,’” Bostic said.

Bostic added the relationship between the two men had been strained by conflict recently before the murder.

According to Bostic, family members agreed with the plea deal, with the added burden of a lengthy jury trial was included among their reasons. 

Michael Wright had been released from state prison less than three months before the incident, serving eight months on drug and DWI charges. Before that, he had been imprisoned recurrently on more than a dozen theft-related charges and three assault charges stemming from incidents dating back to Feb. 15, 2000, when he was 16.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.