After more than six hours of deliberation, the jury in the murder trial of Patty “Fat Cat” Potter found her guilty of the 2011 murder of Loretta Wright, a Southbridge, Mass., woman who disappeared over a decade ago from a dinner party.
Ms. Wright, 39, an oncology nurse, vanished in January 2011. A few days later, her husband, Lance Wright, 38, told police that he had killed his wife, then returned home and attempted suicide. She was found dead, wearing an eye mask and a gas mask, in the trunk of her car.
“What do you think happened to Loretta Wright?” prosecutor John Agawie asked the 12 jurors before going on to describe what happened. “Whoever did it that night deserves to spend life in prison without the possibility of parole.”
“I think there was a mistake in the end,” defense attorney Jon Linscomb replied. “I think that mistake was made. She didn’t find Loretta on the night of Jan. 14 and take her to a dive bar and have sex with her.”
Linscomb said that the forensics evidence that linked Ms. Potter and her estranged husband, Lance Wright, to his wife’s death could not be ignored. The couple, now in their mid-30s, both met at Whittington College. Ms. Potter started the relationship with Ms. Wright when she was only 19. When the two began living together, she initially struggled financially to support her then-boyfriend’s family.
In a 2009 court document, Ms. Potter said that Mr. Wright had once lived above her, and she called her the master of the house, complete with his wife’s toothbrush and toothpaste, a notebook full of ideas about murder, knife techniques and “slaughter techniques.” She said that in 2001, Mr. Wright had stabbed the family’s cat to death because it had bitten Mr. Wright during an argument.
Mr. Wright pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in prison for the cat-killing.
“Lance Wright doesn’t know what happened to Loretta Wright,” Linscomb said. “Lance Wright died six years ago. Loretta Wright is dead.”
(In addition to murder and reckless endangerment, Ms. Potter also was found guilty of assault with intent to murder and kidnapping and pleaded not guilty to abuse of a corpse, kidnapping and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.)
Assistant district attorney Robert Siciliano cautioned jurors that the conviction would not mean that they would be sequestered during their deliberations or house arrest after that.
“We’re going to need you at the end of today,” he said. “But the conviction is not a license to avoid knowing what we owe Loretta Wright’s family.”
According to court records, Mr. Wright is serving a 15-year prison sentence for the cat killing. Ms. Potter has not yet been arraigned, so it was not clear where she would receive her sentence.