Winona County man sentenced to more than 10 years for wife's murder

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Jul. 22—WINONA — The rural Dakota, Minn., man who admitted this spring to killing his wife just more than a year ago was sentenced Wednesday to more than 10 years in state prison.

Joseph Bailly Wright, 80, pleaded guilty on April 13 in Winona County District Court to a single count of second-degree murder. He was sentenced by Judge Mary Leahy on Wednesday to 128 months in state prison. He will receive credit for the 377 days he has already served.

As part of the guilty plea presented to the court in April, Wright's attorney and prosecutors recommended a maximum of 128 months in prison. The sentence is a "mitigated durational departure," which means the prison sentence is more than 15% lower than sentencing guidelines.

The Winona County Sheriff's Office was called in the late night hours of July 10, 2020, to a residence in the 45000 block of Winona County Road 12, just west of the town of Dakota, by a man who said he had killed his wife.

The man, identified as Wright, told a dispatcher he had "too many problems" when asked why he did it and that he had tried to commit suicide.

Law enforcement learned the woman suffered from dementia. She was found dead with at least one apparent stab wound to her abdomen as well as blunt force trauma to her face.

Inside the home, a member of law enforcement found "an apparent suicide note with statements indicating the writer could not take it anymore, the writer could not watch her suffer, and the writer tried to kill himself," the criminal complaint reads.

Wright had been held on $1 million unconditional bail since July 16, 2020.

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