Detroit — A federal judge Monday refused to free a convicted killer serving two life sentences despite health problems that have left the biker gang hitman terminally ill with diseases that have cost him two legs and nine fingers.
Ward Wright, 61, does not deserve compassionate release during the COVID-19 pandemic because he lacked remorse until recently and committed a string of infractions while imprisoned, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy wrote.
Wright was trying to leave prison after nearly 20 years and cited his increased risk of dying during the pandemic. The request faced steep odds as only two convicted killers have been granted compassionate release nationwide since March, the judge said.
“No matter how defendant’s crimes are framed, defendant killed a human being for fifty-thousand dollars,” the judge wrote. “Serving only twenty years in jail will no doubt minimize the seriousness of defendant’s murder.”
Wright, a Metro Detroit native, Avengers Motorcycle Club member and bar bouncer so tough people called him “Anvil,” was convicted of killing Warren resident David “Slap” Moore, 35, in 1993.
Wright was paid $50,000 and was involved in a conspiracy to deal drugs and steal airplanes for the Medellin drug cartel.
His lawyer had argued Wright has essentially served a life sentence.
“He spent the remaining healthy years of his life in prison,” James W. Amberg wrote to the judge. “The life he lives now is not a normal healthy life, but instead is one of a slow, painful death.”
Wright’s quest to leave prison was detailed in The Detroit News in September.
“On the whole, releasing defendant almost twenty years after a jury convicted him of trafficking drugs, working with a cartel, and murdering a man in exchange for fifty-thousand dollars ‘would not promote respect for the law[,] proper deterrence, [or] provide just punishment,'” the judge wrote.
In short, defendant rightly received two life sentences and the court will not reduce the punishment,” Murphy added.
The judge noted that Wright long maintained his innocence and only recently expressed remorse.
“Even so, defendant has still not apologized to Moore’s family or efforted to comfort them either through a letter or at the court’s hearing in September,” Murphy wrote.
“The court therefore cannot find that defendant’s two years’ worth of good behavior was because of an improvement in character rather than defendant’s deteriorating health. Nor can the court find that defendant has taken serious rehabilitative steps while in prison.”