Sixty-one minutes earlier, on 10 May 2007, a streetwise, wise woman named Katherina Wright was pushed to her death in the passenger seat of the car she shared with another woman. The target of a neighbour’s jealous rage, the driver of the vehicle, Da’Shonda Crockett, was charged with second-degree murder, but her trial last week served, ironically, to deflect responsibility from one of Wright’s long-time friends.
Daunte Wright, 16, was best friends with Katherina Wright; he was with her when her SUV stopped dead in a lane of traffic on the grounds of the Lily Lake regional campus of the University of Minnesota – and proceeded to play Xbox up until her last moments. The underclassman was one of a fraternity that was beaten by the suspect in their shared sorority house, McTaggart’s, on the evening of the assault, and one of Katherina’s friends who was beaten in the head with a pipe. Wright, like Katherina, was kidnapped while bound and gagged, and wasn’t picked up until the next morning, when she arrived at a friend’s house from the hospital. But on Saturday, the defense team for the McTaggart sister, McKinzie Crockett, a.k.a Da’Shonda, broke down Katherina’s door and asked whether Daunte or her daughter was there. “No one knows who took Karma,” cried a courtroom full of enraged friends of Katherina.
From the best friend of Katherina Wright who testified in the trial:
“It just breaks my heart to have to face the fact that she’s not going to be here no more,” said the woman, who spoke to the court in tears. “When I’m doing my schoolwork, I’m mad and then I’m sad because she’s not with me now.” The woman said she, too, hadn’t finished her first semester because of Katherina’s absence.
Other evidence painted a picture of a girl whose life revolved around her co-workers, her sorority sisters and her sorority sisters’ boyfriends. She was named one of the sorority’s most elite students, and credited with preparing the pledges for some of the hottest house dances. And by many accounts, she wasn’t afraid to risk whatever it took, with the collective knowledge she wielded, to get what she wanted. Wright’s friends and family remembered her saying, “I make love like my mother.”
There was a time, in fact, when Tifan Hatch, a 19-year-old student and friend of Daunte Wright, said he would compete with Wright for the affections of a girl when they were both new to the University of Minnesota. He had something that Wright would not. “I think that even within the safety zone of that sorority house, where men could be men, guys are cool,” he said. “But, you know, girls aren’t cool. And guys don’t respect girls. Or at least, boys don’t respect girls. It’s that simple.” Wright was known as someone who had a “go to” manner in which to roll with any situation. And even if she was protected by her hometown sorority, Wright said, being a woman would leave her less able to curb aggressive, possessive boyfriends. “She’s invincible,” Hatch said. “When the man is angry, she’s unstoppable. “I know that shit sucks because I’m a 21-year-old boy. And shit, it’s hell. I have a girlfriend now and she’s, like, really good. She doesn’t let dudes touch her, and she’s real mature.”
Daunte Wright, an African-American man, and Katherina Wright, a white woman, were best friends, too. The Minnesota prosecutor in the trial, Stephen Flaherty, called the emotion evident in a court of one a spectacle. “This is nothing like I’ve ever seen,” Flaherty said. “We haven’t seen this kind of emotional climax for awhile. Any black faces on the bench? I guess you could say you might have guessed that she’s a woman. And so does the prosecutor here. And so does the jury. They are all white. And they’re laughing. And they’re laughing and laughing. And they’re laughing and laughing. You’re laughing, too. You’re happy, and it’s, like, karma’s a bitch.”