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Sex-assault suspect to take stand

Luke J. Wright will take the witness stand in an attempt to show that because of his mental retardation he is unable to understand "simple concepts," his attorney said Thursday.

Wright, 32, faces life in prison if convicted of rape, criminal sexual act, sodomy, predatory sexual assault with a dangerous instrument and incest. He is accused of repeatedly raping Laura Cummings, his half sister, in the flat they shared with their mother, Eva M. Cummings, on Sherman Avenue in North Collins.

Eva Cummings, 51, was sentenced to 52 years to life in prison last November after being convicted of second-degree murder for the Jan. 21, 2010, strangulation of her developmentally disabled daughter.

Attorney John R. Nuchereno said he plans to put Wright on the stand to counter law enforcement claims of his alleged voluntary admissions in the days after Laura Cummings was killed last year. The jury trial is expected to get under way next month before Senior Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico.

D'Amico reserved decision Thursday on how many of the nine oral and seven written statements Wright made to Erie County sheriff's investigators can be used against him during the jury trial.

Prosecutors Thomas M. Finnerty and Kristin A. St. Mary said that in admissions made to sheriff's detectives and deputies between Jan. 21 and 29, 2010, Wright said he repeatedly raped his half sister and became sexually aroused while torturing her. Detectives, the prosecution maintained, said Wright seemed mentally alert and coherent.

Nuchereno attempted to prove Wright, who was born retarded and suffered a traumatic brain injury during the last decade, was incapable of being coherent.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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