NY man gets prison for disabled sister's torture

May 24, 2011 - 12:29 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A New York man was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years to life in prison for raping, scalding and torturing his disabled half-sister before their mother killed her last year.

Luke Wright, 32, did not speak and remained stoic during his sentencing in Erie County Court, where a jury found him guilty last month on 10 criminal counts.

Prosecutors said Wright threw boiling water on 23-year-old Laura Cummings' face shortly before their mother, Eva Cummings, suffocated her in the family's North Collins home, and that Wright had sexually abused his half-sister for years. Wright and his mother kept Laura Cummings tied to a kitchen chair with a hood over her head for much of the last two months of her life, investigators said.

Wright's lawyer, John Nuchereno, asked Judge Michael D'Amico to show mercy in sentencing the mildly mentally retarded Wright, who he said endured a "living hell" growing up in his mother's home. Wright has brain damage from childhood beatings with bricks and baseball bats and still doesn't understand his legal situation, the lawyer said.

Eva Cummings is serving more than 50 years to life for killing her daughter. She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in October.

Prosecutor Thomas Finnerty, in asking for a long prison term, called Wright's actions depraved.

"The fact that he had been abused in the past, the fact that he is mildly mentally retarded, the fact that he was raised by a terrible, awful wicked person — his mother — none of those are criminal defenses," Finnerty said.

Over several days after his half-sister's death, Wright gave investigators multiple statements detailing how he and his mother had treated her. Although his lawyer cautioned jurors not to believe everything Wright said, the confessions were the centerpiece of the prosecution's case.

Wright was found guilty of assault, rape, incest, sodomy, endangering the welfare of an incompetent person and unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime.