A second trial for Donnie E. Wright ended with a guilty verdict last week and Monday the 48-year-old Washington Court House resident was sentenced to eight years in prison for having sex with a minor.
Wright, 48, was convicted by a Fayette County jury Thursday on three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, each a third-degree high-tier felony, for having a sexual relationship with his girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter.
The case was in the news recently when the Record-Herald reported it was tried in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas before a jury in August. During the August trial on the same charges, the jury could not reach a unanimous decision, and after four hours of deliberation, the trial ended as a mistrial. Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade requested a new trial and the case was heard Oct. 5 before a new jury. This time, they did reach a unanimous verdict in the case, which relied heavily on testimonial evidence to convict Wright.
Court testimony and documents revealed in August that Wright entered into a sexual relationship with his girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter in December of 2016 when he was living with the family in Fayette County. The minor’s mother told police about the relationship in March and an investigation ensued, but the victim was not cooperative with law enforcement’s efforts to collect information, so there was no DNA evidence to link Wright to the juvenile. The original text messages between Wright and the juvenile had been deleted before law enforcement was able to retrieve the data, and according to testimony, were deleted because the minor said that she was afraid.
It wasn’t the first time Wright had been accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor and it wasn’t the first time that he had had a case end as a mistrial. In 2012, a Fayette County jury heard a similar case in which Wright was charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. The first trial in that case resulted with a hung jury. On the re-trial he was acquitted of the charges when the jury found him not guilty. The alleged victim in that case has since moved to Florida, court records report.
With last week’s guilty verdict, Fayette County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven Beathard entered the conviction and ordered Wright to serve eight years of mandatory time in state prison and to register as a sex offender.
Reach Ashey by phone at (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton