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 Sudbury.com'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.