Defense Rests Case in Wright Trial

April 18, 2011 Updated Apr 18, 2011 at 7:33 PM EDT

By John Borsa

April 18, 2011 Updated Apr 18, 2011 at 7:33 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - The defense rested its case in the trial of Luke Wright after calling one witness to the stand on Monday.

Dr. Charles Ewing, a forensic psychologist and professor at the University at Buffalo, testified that Wright does not understand the nature of the charges against him, does not understand the roles of attorney, judge and jury and is not able to assist in his own defense.

Wright, 32, of North Collins, is charged with raping and sodomizing his developmentally disabled sister, Laura Cummings, 23.

Cummings was murdered by her mother, Eva Cummings, 51, who is serving a 52-years-to-life prison term.

Despite objections from the prosecution, Erie County Court Judge Michael D'Amico allowed Ewing to testify that Wright is not mentally competent to stand trial.

The court ruled that Wright is fit to stand trial before jury selection began earlier this month.

Defense attorney John Nuchereno said Wright did not understand the concept of his right to remain silent, a right he waved before allegedly confessing to police.

"He is subject to a concept known as confabulation," Nuchereno told reporters during a break in the trial.

"Luke is a confabulator," he said. "That means that a person in that kind of a situation will simply make up things."

Wright gave seven sworn statements to police in the days following his sister's January 21, 2010 death.

"He will make up things often," said Nuchereno. "He will make them up in such a manner that he wants to please people to whom he's speaking. In this case, authority figures such as the police."

Under cross-examination, prosecutor Thomas Finnerty asked Dr. Ewing if Wright's statements to police were accurate.

Dr. Ewing responded that Wright's admissions were consistent with the evidence, but that Wright did not understand that his actions were wrong.

Prosecutors plan to call their own mental health expert as a rebuttal witness to the stand on Tuesday morning.

Judge D'Amico said he expects the jury will begin its deliberations as early as Wednesday afternoon.

Wright could spent the rest of his life behind bars if convicted of rape, sodomy, incest and assault.

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