19 years after murder of Lou. woman, killer pleads guilty


by Brittany Gonzalez


Posted on January 24, 2014 at 6:35 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 24 at 6:53 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Nineteen years after Debra Wright was stabbed, strangled and robbed her family finally got a sense of closure even after they believed her case had gone cold.

On Friday morning, Jan. 24, Brian Sturgeon sat calmly in a Jefferson County courtroom.

Sturgeon was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in South Carolina and sentenced to 45 years in prison in 2010. It was during that homicide investigation when police were able to connect his DNA to a fingerprint and blood left at the home Wright was murdered.

Sturgeon pleaded guilty to the charge of murder and accepted the plea deal by the Commonwealth of a 20 year sentence to serve concurrent with the 45 years he is already serving.

Wright’s husband at the time, Don Wright, said he wished Sturgeon would have been sentenced to more time in prison.  “I don’t think it’s right…It ain’t going to bring her back whatever they do with him.”

Prosecutor John Balenovich said the Commonwealth offered Sturgeon the deal because after 19 years the case had issues with evidence.

“During that time witnesses move around, witnesses pass away, [and] evidence gets misplaced. It’s nobody’s fault it’s over a certain amount of time there are complications that come along with cold cases,” Balenovich said.

Balenovich said taking Sturgeon to trial also came with the possibility for Sturgeon to only serve 50 percent of the sentence as opposed to 85 percent of the sentence since in 1995 that was the standard set.

Wright’s family said hearing Sturgeon admit to what he did gives them closure, but they still want to know why he killed Wright. Wright’s family said they hope Sturgeon will give them an answer during sentencing, which is scheduled for March 11, 2014. The same date the murder trial against Sturgeon would have started.