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BEHIND THE SCENES: The murder case that never went cold reporter Jenny Lamothe takes us behind the scenes of possibly the most anticipated murder trial in Sudbury's history
Robert Steven Wright has been convicted of second-degree murder in the 1998 stabbing death of Renée Sweeney. During the trial, anything discussed while the jury was excused was covered by a publication ban, but the information discussed during those hearings can now form the basis for Wright's appeal.
Defense attorney Michael Lacy plans to appeal and feels the Crown's closing argument was prejudicial. Lacy believed that the jury should have had reasonable doubt. Although the defense asked the judge to allow the jury the option of considering manslaughter as one of the charges when they were ready to begin deliberations, Gordon only allowed the jury to convict or acquit on charges of second-degree murder. Wright could not be questioned about his actions, or lack thereof, in the intervening years between Sweeney's death and the day he was arrested, based on legal precedent and the rights of the accused.
The Crown repeatedly stated that Wright stayed silent "for a quarter of a century," which Lacy claims is a statement for which no evidence was introduced. During the trial, Lacy stated he believed a forensic DNA expert was a biased witness.
Video Summary:

In 1998, Renee Sweeney, a 23-year-old woman from Sudbury was brutally murdered. Although police gathered evidence, no direct witnesses were found, and the case remained unsolved for years. In 2013, advances in technology enabled the police to test DNA from the case and found a match. Robert Steven Wright was arrested for second-degree murder, and the trial took place in Sudbury in 2023. The trial lasted for five weeks, and's Jenny Lamothe was in the courtroom every day.

The jury saw graphic photos and heard testimony from a pathologist who detailed the 27 stab wounds that Sweeney had sustained, including four fatal blows to her neck. However, it was the DNA evidence that proved pivotal to the case. DNA was found under Sweeney's fingernails, but technology in 1998 was not advanced enough to make a match. In 2013, Dr. Tara Bretsky was able to make a comparison with a new sample, and Greater Sudbury Police Sergeant Robert Weston was able to use Parabon NanoLabs to create composite images and ancestry links.

The jury found Wright guilty of second-degree murder. The case highlights the importance of persistence in police investigations, even when evidence is limited. It also shows the critical role that DNA evidence can play in solving crimes, particularly with advancements in technology.