Hassan Lamont Wright has left a trail of violence tracing back to the 1980s and spent almost all of his adult years in prison.
Both times he has been released from prison on parole, he has been convicted of or charged with a new violent crime. Each time, the crimes occurred within a year of him getting freedom.
The latest mark on Wright’s time line came Tuesday, when Sedgwick County prosecutors charged the 47-year-old Haysville man with murder, attempted murder, rape, sodomy, attempted arson and a dozen other crimes in a vicious stabbing of a mother and her 4- and 6-year-old daughters.
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Wright is accused of stabbing to death the 6-year-old girl and trying to set her and her severely wounded mother on fire. Someone found the 4-year-old girl, critically injured and wandering in a field north of Wichita. Wichita police discovered the attack Nov. 4.
The victims’ family and Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter say that Wright’s criminal history should have kept him in prison. But under the current system, he got another chance.
“There are certain people … who do not belong out in society, period, and I would say he is one of them,” Easter said.
“This guy’s a predator.”
In 1989, when Wright was 18, he was convicted of second-degree murder for fatally shooting another teen outside a barbecue restaurant in Kansas City, Kan. Wright was also convicted of aggravated battery for wounding a second person. The murder occurred five days after Wright had been released from jail on bond in another shooting.
Wright got a second chance in 2005 when he was released from prison on parole. But 11 months after that parole began, court records show, he sexually assaulted a woman in her Wichita apartment and was returned to prison for another decade.
He got a third chance this past March when he was again released to Sedgwick County, this time as a registered sex offender for the 2005 crime.
But on Nov. 3 or early Nov. 4, authorities allege, he stabbed his niece, in her 20s, and her 6- and 4-year-old daughters. The attack critically injured the woman and her younger daughter, who are recovering, a family spokesman said. The 6-year-old died from her injuries.
Wright’s history of violence illustrates a shortcoming in the criminal justice system, Easter said.
“This person was given a second chance after he murdered somebody” in the 1980s and given a third chance with his current parole after he assaulted the woman in 2005. And now, Wright is charged again.
Wright’s defense attorney, Chief Public Defender Mark Rudy, said he couldn’t discuss the case.
Louis Iverson, a spokesman for the family of the stabbing victims, said Thursday: “Not only is it my personal opinion, but it is definitely a collective feeling around our area of the community that he (Wright) should have never been released from prison” because of his criminal history.
The family is thankful for quick work by police in arresting Wright after the stabbings were discovered, Iverson said.
“At this point in time, we just hope that the judicial system does what it’s supposed to do.”
When someone is convicted of another violent crime after getting a second chance, Easter said, “I believe they should be in prison for the rest of their life” or face a mandatory minimum sentence of about 40 years.
It would help deter crime, the sheriff said, because it would make a criminal think twice before hurting someone again.
“I don’t think those are chances we should be taking anymore,” he said.
The fact is, Easter said, almost all inmates are eventually released from prison, and the odds are against them being rehabilitated while behind bars.
One good thing, District Attorney Marc Bennett said, is that at least under current sentencing laws, a person with a violent criminal history gets a greatly increased sentence when convicted of a new violent crime.
The latest crimes
On Tuesday, Bennett’s office charged Wright with 17 counts, including:
▪ First-degree murder in the death of the 6-year-old, identified in the criminal complaint only by her initials. Wichita police found the 6-year-old and her mother with severe stab wounds in a Jeep found crashed into another vehicle in a south-side shopping center parking lot.
▪ Attempted first-degree murder for the injuries to the mother, in her 20s, and attempted first-degree murder for the injuries suffered by the 4-year-old. The mother had been stabbed in her chest, abdomen and wrists, and the girl had been stabbed multiple times in her abdomen, the criminal complaint says. The younger girl was found wandering in a field north of Wichita. Where she was found, investigators taped off a large crime scene at a sand plant.
▪ Three counts of aggravated kidnapping.
▪ Multiple counts of rape and aggravated criminal sodomy suffered by the mother, identified by her initials.
▪ Multiple counts of aggravated robbery or attempted aggravated robbery. One of the charges accuses Wright of forcing the woman “at knife point to drive to an ATM to withdraw money for him.” Police said they recovered a knife.
▪ Aggravated arson, alleging that he “poured oil throughout a Jeep and on (the mother and her oldest daughter) and attempted to start a lighter.”
Wright remains in jail on a $1 million bond.
His latest parole, arrest scene
At the time of the triple stabbing, Wright had been on parole for eight months.
As part of his parole supervision, “Initially, Wright reported weekly for programming,” said Brianna Landon, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Corrections. “Once he completed the required program, he was required to report to his parole officer monthly in person, at a minimum. If there were any concerns, that reporting requirement could be increased, but Wright was compliant with the conditions of his supervision until the day of his recent arrest,” Landon said in an e-mail.
Wright was employed, Landon said. On an affidavit Wright signed Tuesday in seeking a defense attorney, he said he worked for a Wichita temporary-labor/staffing business and received average monthly gross pay of $800. He listed monthly bills exceeding his gross pay. The owner of the business declined to verify whether Wright was an employee. Wright also put on the affidavit that his common-law wife is unemployed.
He was listed as a sex offender on the state’s public offender registry, with a Haysville address.
Wichita police said authorities spotted Wright within a couple of hours after they discovered the stabbing. They arrested him after stopping a car near 55th and South Broadway.
Wesley Fitzgerald, 29, was at a nearby business and saw the arrest. As soon as the car carrying Wright stopped, several officers with guns drawn converged on the car. Some of them had “ATF” on their vests. They yelled at Wright to get out of the car, and he put himself “face down, arms out, everything. He did not resist,” Fitzgerald said.
A woman in the driver’s seat was screaming to Wright: “I love you! I love you! I love you!”
She was crying and “kind of hysterical,” and officers later helped her out of the car, Fitzgerald said.
Investigators opened the car trunk and looked inside. They seemed to focus on a bag. The car remained at the scene for several hours before it was towed away, he said. The investigators used cones apparently to mark something outside the car.
A couple of miles from where he was arrested, Wright lived with a woman and children. The car he was riding in when he was arrested appeared to be the car used by the woman with whom he was living.
Neighborhood kids played in and around his yard, said one neighbor, who didn’t know until after Wright’s arrest that he was a registered sex offender.
Neighbors knew Wright by his middle name, Lamont, not his first name, Hassan. If someone looks for “Lamont Wright” on the state registry, he doesn’t show up. But type in “Hassan Wright,” and he does appear on the registry, with his mugshot, address and a generic description of his crime.
The 2005 crime
Wright’s first parole came on Jan. 3, 2005. Eleven months later, according to a court hearing transcript, he assaulted a woman in her south Wichita apartment. She testified that she had previously been in a relationship with Wright, that she had recently married another man, that Wright called and said he was coming over to her apartment.
He held her hands tightly, grabbed her keys and raped her, she testified.
Prosecutors charged Wright with rape on Jan. 26, 2006. They later amended the rape charge to charges of aggravated battery and burglary.
In pleading guilty in July 2006, Wright agreed that the crime was sexually motivated, a court document shows. He also agreed to register as a sex offender.
Wright spent the next 10 years in prison. Part of that time was punishment for violating his parole on the second-degree murder charge. Part of that time was for his sentence for the sex crime.
Protection was sought
A few months before prosecutors charged him with assaulting the woman, she and another Wichita woman separately filed petitions for protective orders against him. They filed their petitions on the same day – Oct. 14, 2005.
The victim of the alleged rape said in her petition for the protective order that Wright was stalking her, threatening her, making her feel in danger, damaging her vehicle and finding ways of getting her new phone number.
The other woman alleged that Wright “has hit me in the face, he’s stalking me. He’s making threats. … He is having his friends stalk me also. They say they know every move I make.
“I feel he is putting my life in danger.”
That woman, who sought the protective order against him 11 years ago, is the same person listed by Wright in court papers this past week as being his common-law wife.
The protective-order cases against Wright were dismissed when neither the women nor Wright appeared in court.
Contributing: Tony Rizzo of the Kansas City Star