WINONA -- The Dakota, Minn., man charged with killing his wife last summer pleaded guilty to the charge this week in Winona County District Court.
Joseph Bailly Wright, 79, pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree murder. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Mary Leahy on July 21.
As part of the guilty plea, a joint recommendation of a maximum cap 128 months in prison was presented to the court. The sentence would be a "mitigated durational departure," which means the prison sentence is more than 15% lower than sentencing guidelines. Wright's attorneys also will be able to argue for additional departures.
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 has been held on $1 million unconditional bail since July 16, 2020. Court records indicate that Wright was scheduled to go to trial on the matter on April 19.