Wright set for mental evaluation on Wednesday
Marissa Lynn Wright of Traskwood, who recently admitted to killing two men since 2008 and burying them in her backyard, is expected to complete a mental evaluation on Wednesday.
Wright, 50, is expected to be transported to a state hospital for the mental exam or license doctors could make the trip to Grant County jail where she is being held without bond.
Saline County prosecutors said there isn't a definitive time table for the doctors completion of the report, but it should be finished well before her next date before Saline County Circuit Judge Gary Arnold, which is at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 27. Wright's attorney Pat Aydelott is also requesting that Arnold allow the admitted killer to go home to care for her father, R.B. Wright, who is said to be in poor health. He said Marissa Wright could wear an ankle monitor, submit to drug tests, and "will stay where she needs to be."
Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Bush, though, said at a Dec. 1 court proceeding that the bond request is "not appropriate" and requested that the motion for bond be denied. Bush also requested a deposition from R.B. Wright concerning his health. Arnold replied that he cannot rule on a bond request for Wright until the forensic mental evaluation is complete.
It was during the Dec. 1 court proceeding that Wright also smiled at Kathy Richards Blue, sister of murdered Joe Lee "Joey" Richards Jr. of Benton, and said "hello." When Wright later exited the courtroom, she also smiled at reporters.
Wright is facing two counts of capital murder for the Oct. 8, 2010, death of Joey Richards, and for the Feb. 15, 2008, death of Randall Craig Anderson of Mabelvale. The Saline County Prosecuting Attorney's Office noted that Anderson was killed in "an especially cruel or depraved manner" and they are seeking the death penalty for the two murders.
The bodies of Anderson and Joey Richards were discovered on Wright's property, at 2902 W. Main St. in Traskwood, on Oct. 4. Anderson's body was discovered buried underneath a koi pond on the property and Joey Richards body was found underneath a pile of blocks near the koi pond.
In court documents filed by the prosecutor's office, Wright admitted to law enforcement detectives that she was involved in the murders of Anderson and Joey Richards. Jay W. Beeson Jr., 53, also faces a charge of capital murder and kidnapping for the Anderson death. A jury trial for Beeson is set to begin on May 22, 2012. He is represented by Little Rock attorney Patrick Benca.
A third person, Myra Terry, 53, also was arrested on Oct. 7 and is charged with hindering apprehension in the Joey Richards murder case. She also was charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
Benton police began a missing case for Joey Richards on Oct. 20, 2010 after his father reported that he had not returned home nor contacted any family members for 12 days. Yet, Joe Lee Richards Sr. said his son's truck was found 11 days before making the report. The vehicle was parked in front of the family's shop door in a spot that Joey Richards "normally did not park." The elder Richards also found his son's wallet, cell phone and laptop computer inside the vehicle.
During the investigation, according to court records, Terry told detectives that she was with Marissa Wright and Joey Richards at Wright's home in Traskwood on the night the elder Richards said he last saw his son. She said Wright and Joey Richards argued about money and that Joey Richards left the home around midnight.
Wright was interviewed by detectives in 2010 and claimed that Joey Richards was at her home, but said he left around 1:30 a.m. the following morning (Oct. 9, 2010). Benton detectives told The Saline Courier that leads were not productive, though they were continuing efforts to find Joey Richards.
Police got their first break on the case on Nov. 16, 2010, when a woman reportedly called 911 from a pay phone in Benton. She refused to give her name, and said that Marissa Wright killed Joey Richards in the bathroom (of Wright's home) by shooting him. She didn't know what Wright did with the body, but said she knew Wright drove Joey Richards' truck back to his home in Benton. Wright then hitched a ride back to Traskwood, the woman said.
The caller also said that Wright tortured and killed another person named "Randy" in the bedroom of her home "two or three years ago." She said "there was blood everywhere" and the room had been repainted to cover it up. The caller also mentioned the 1989 shooting murder of Jeff Rhodes of Benton. Wright was charged with that murder, but the charge was dropped. She was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony that put her then-boyfriend, Darrell Frank Pilcher, in the state penitentiary for life.
Not long after detectives received the phone call, on the same day, they interviewed two people who claimed they were at Wright's home on Oct. 8, 2010, cooking methamphetamine in a bathroom. They said Wright and Terry also were there.
One witness said that at some point in the night, Joey Richards barged into the bathroom and started fighting. Two "pop" sounds were heard and Joey Richards said "she shot me."
The witness said Wright was holding a pistol and that she said "I had to do something to get you to calm down."
Court records also said the second witness saw Joey Richards storm into bedroom next to the bathroom where the meth cook was taking place. The witness said Joey Richards had picked Wright up and thrown her on the bed before he tackled the witness to the floor. The witness said when Joey Richards was on top of him, he heard a "pop" and Joey Richards rolled on his side and said, "She shot me."
Both the witnesses reportedly were told to leave the home, and when one witness couldn't find his vehicle keys, he said Wright told them to drive her Jeep. One witness recalled seeing Joey Richards sitting against a bathtub still speaking before running out of the home.
One witness reportedly told detectives that Wright and Terry later drove to his home to pick up the Jeep and said Wright said she drove Joey Richards' truck to his home in Benton. The witness said Wright said, "Nobody will ever find (Joey) Richards and that all of the people interviewed state they have no knowledge of the location of his body."
As for Anderson's death, Wright told authorities that she called a friend on Feb. 15, 2008, to find Anderson, who had fled into a field behind her home. She said the friend reportedly showed up with a pistol, she later heard three shots fired, and the friend brought Anderson back inside the home at gunpoint.
Wright said that her friend then hog-tied Anderson, wrapped him in plastic and used physical force to "coerce a confession" concerning missing items, including jewelry belonging to Wright's mother.
Because Anderson reportedly refused to cooperate, Wright said she and her friend left Anderson wrapped in plastic "from head to toe ... with a bag over his head," causing him to die from suffocation. Wright said that her friend then left her home with her dog and that he was later arrested in Benton during a traffic stop.
According to a Feb. 15, 2008, Benton police report, Beeson was stopped at 11 p.m. by Officer Michael Teague. Teague said a silver handgun was found in his right rear pocket and a criminal history search showed Beeson to be a convicted felon. Beeson was arrested that night for possession of a firearm by a certain person.
Wright did not say Beeson's name, according to the affidavit, but investigators were able to piece together evidence — including arrest records in Benton and other interviews with Wright about the murders — to serve an arrest warrant for Beeson. He was taken into custody without incident at his place of employment in Little Rock on Nov. 1, according to Saline County Sheriff's Lt. Scotty Courtney.
Authorities said in court documents that Wright later confirmed that Beeson was the friend involved in Anderson's death.
When hordes of local, state, and national law enforcement agency officers served a warrant at Wright's home in early October and found the bodies of Anderson and Joey Richards, she reportedly left a suicide note — in which she admitted her part in the murders — at the home and was later taken into custody at Saline Memorial Hospital after a reported failed suicide attempt.
Beeson has a lengthy arrest record, including numerous violent crimes. According to the Arkansas Department of Correction, Beeson was incarcerated twice — once for a second-degree murder conviction in 1992 for the death of his former brother-in-law, Randy Jack Allen. Records note that Beeson shot Allen in a vehicle during an argument at a Sonic Drive-in in Malvern. Two other people reportedly were inside the vehicle with Allen, including Allen's 4-year-old daughter. Beeson was sentenced to 20 years, but paroled after less than three years in prison.
Beeson violated his parole and was sent back to prison in November of 1999, but was released in September of 2000.
Wright also has a history of involvement in violent crimes, including the murder of Jeff Rhodes of Benton in 1989. She was known as Marissa Bragg during that time and was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony against her co-defendant, then-boyfriend Darrell Frank Pilcher of North Little Rock.
Bragg testified that she and Pilcher met Rhodes at the Tull Bridge in Grant County for a cocaine deal. Pilcher reportedly left Bragg with Rhodes to retrieve money and returned to find the two allegedly engaged in a sexual act. Pilcher reportedly admitted to shooting Rhodes in the head with a 0.38-caliber pistol because of "a crime of passion."
Bragg also testified that the two placed Rhodes' body in the bed of a pickup truck and drove to several locations in Saline and Pulaski counties before eventually disposing of his body at a dumpsite in the Crows community. Testimony also included statements that Pilcher had made an unsuccessful attempt to cut off Rhodes' head with an ax.
At the dumpsite, one or both of the couple set fire to the body, authorities said. A passerby later found the body smoldering at the site.
Pilcher was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole. He continues to be an inmate of the Cummins Unit of the ADC.
Wright also was arrested on June 12, 2009, for reportedly pointing a handgun at a man while he was holding his son. The victim told Saline County sheriff's deputies that Wright came out of a home in the 2900 block of W. Main St. in Traskwood, pointed a pistol at him and cursed at him. The victim said he walked to the porch to get his oldest son, when another person pushed him and a man named Reaves Wright kicked him. The victim told police that Marissa Wright continued to point the pistol at him and that he later got away with his two children.
According to a sheriff's deputy, Marissa Wright was "very belligerent, loud and disorderly at the scene" of her arrest. "She was also extremely uncooperative during the investigation," the deputy said.
Wright reportedly was charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a minor. She later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. The report noted that a suspect arrested for third-degree domestic battery from the incident asked not to be placed in the same cell with Wright.
While Wright is being held in the Grant County jail, Beeson and Terry are incarcerated at the Saline County jail. No bond has been set for any of the three.
Though she recently pleaded not guilty of the two counts of capital murder, Wright reportedly told Saline County Sheriff detectives during interviews that she killed both Joey Richards and Anderson.