Mark Sievers trial: Wright implicates defendant in murder: Day 2
The hitman in the murder of a Bonita Springs doctor gave testimony at the Lee County Courthouse Thursday afternoon. Holding his right hand in the air, Curtis Wayne Wright was sworn in.
The first question the state asked Wright, 51, was who killed Dr. Teresa Sievers in 2015. The victim was the wife of the man on trial, Mark Sievers, who faces charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Wright, clad in a light brown jail shirt, has a piercing stare as he sits on the stand, with an officer hovering behind him. In front of Wright sits Mark Sievers, 51, dressed in a sharp blue suit. It is likely the first time the two men have been in the same room for years.
“Jimmy Rodgers and I physically did it,” Wright said to the state attorney, as he is hunched over on the stand. He adds: “Mark Sievers was also involved in the planning.”
Wright continued, “He said that the only option was for her (Teresa) to die… he asked me to kill her. To take care of it.”
Wright has accepted a plea agreement to cooperate for his testimony in exchange for a 25-year prison sentence. He testified he expected to be paid $100,000 by the defendant to kill the victim.
The defendant gave many ideas of where and how to kill his wife. One idea that was communicated through prepaid phones was a “mugging” at her office.
“When we went to the office, it was obvious that it was too exposed,” Wright said. “I had already ruled it out by that point.”
It was then determined that Dr. Teresa Sievers’ home would be the site of the murder. But Wright encountered another problematic scenario: what if there was someone with the victim when the murder happened?
“They would have to be collateral damage,” said Mark Sievers, according to testimony from Wright. “You would have to kill them.”
As Wright went into the details of Dr. Teresa Sievers, the victim’s family shifted closer to each other in the court pew. But they were not alone in misery. Mark Sievers began to visibly breakdown as the details of the murder became more gripping.
“It was unplanned, but there was a hammer among other things,” Wright said. The plan was always for the victim to die that night. “It was going to happen one way or another.”
For the first time, Wright revealed that the victim thought he was the defendant. Moments later, he told the court that Rodgers was laughing as he “he used the claw part of the hammer” to bash the victim repeatedly.
Soon after, the state showed the jurors pictures of the defendant and Wright during the latter’s wedding. The photos show the two men in blue dress shirts, glasses, smiling with a glass of champaign in their hands. The prosecutor asked Wright to point which one is him in each picture was answered with the response, “I think that’s me.”
The prosecutor points out there are all smiles in the wedding photos. Wright said they bring back good memories. It is important to note, the wedding was the day Wright said his best friend told him Dr. Teresa Sievers needed to die.
Wright’s relationship with the defendant extends back to high school when the men met through girlfriends they were dating. Over the years, he said the relationship became more profound and more “confiding.”
Wright told the court one of the reasons he initially lied to law enforcement in Missouri about the incident was that he struggles with his involvement. A second reason the convicted hitman said, “to protect me, Mark, and Jimmy.”
Controversy over court-appointed notebooks
All jurors in the Mark Sievers murder trial were asked to look through their court-appointed notebooks before testimony began on Thursday morning, coming a day after day one of the opening statements ended with some drama.
When the defense asked the judge about new developments with the notes on Thursday, the second day of testimony, Judge Bruce Kyle told all the jurors to look through their notebooks. When a second juror found writing in her notebook, she was told to rip out her notes and was given a fresh pad.
“I’ve been a judge almost 13 years and we had something unusual happen yesterday,” Judge Kyle said. “We save money and reuse notebooks and shred old notes.”
As Judge Kyle was dismissing jurors on Wednesday, the court discovered a note inside the notebook of a juror that the person did not write.
The judge quickly realized those notes were from a juror on the last trial involving Jimmy Rodgers. Rodgers, 29, was found guilty of second-degree murder. Mark Sievers, 51, is accused of hiring Rodgers to kill his wife, Dr. Teresa Sievers, in 2015. If convicted, the defendant could face the death penalty.
Legal experts say seeing or reading something that is not brought up during the trial can negatively influence a juror. The notes are destroyed after the trial because they are confidential.
“That is very problematic because we’re looking at a trial right now that incorporates information, witnesses, the testimony from that trial,” said Florida Gulf Coast University legal studies professor and practicing attorney, Pamella Seay.
Neither the defense nor the prosecution asked for the juror to be dismissed. The judge did ask the juror if he read the notes, to which he replied, “no.”
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- Mark Sievers trial: Jury selection proves difficult from the start: Day 1
- Mark Sievers trial: Jury selection: Day 2
- Mark Sievers trial: Jury selection: Day 3
- Mark Sievers trial: Jury selection continues: Day 4
- Mark Sievers trial: Long jury selection process continues: Day 5
- Mark Sievers trial: Final jury selected as case prepares for trial: Day 6
- Mark Sievers trial: Opening statements wrap up, witness testimony begins: Day 1