NORTH COLLINS, N.Y. (WIVB) – A witness described the look of profound sadness in the eyes of Laura Cummings during the days of torture and abuse leading up to her murder. A jury is hearing heartbreaking accounts at the rape and sodomy trial of Laura’s half-brother, Luke Wright.
The murder of Laura Cummings in January was a family tragedy. But as the prosecution’s case against Luke Wright continues to unfold, it is exposing family secrets that have festered for years.
All three of Eva Cummings’ sons were in court. Two of them testified against Luke Wright. Richard Cummings testified he watched Luke abusing their sister, Laura. Edward Overmoyer told jurors of Luke beating their sister, but usually when their mother, Eva Cummings, initiated the abuse. But now, a cousin, Joyce Landahl, is emerging as an outside family member controlling their every move.
Defense attorney John Nuchereno said, “You had a witness, a child say that Joyce, herself, beat this girl outside of the home. That Joyce, herself, every single day, effectively forever, Joyce has come by this home three or four times to check on things.”
Landahl, their mother’s cousin, was the payee controlling the SSI checks for Laura, Luke, and their mother. Edward Overmoyer told jurors he was caught having sex with Laura when they were both very young and Landahl threatened to have him arrested if he did anything against her wishes, including exposing Laura’s abuse to authorities.
“Total control, such that his life was controlled every single day for 14 years by a threat of going to prison for something he could have never gone to jail for. That he was under their complete control in every manner, shape or form, as was Luke,” said Nuchereno.
Prosecutors have built much of their case on the confessions of Luke Wright, confessions the defense says could be unreliable. Prosecutors have chosen not to comment on the case outside of court.
If found guilty on all counts, Luke Wright could spend the rest of his life in prison.