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Jury to continue deliberating Thursday in murder trial


An aggravated murder charge was dismissed today against Walter E. Zimbeck, II, who is charged in the 1985 murder of Lori Ann Hill, 14.

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WAUSEON — A jury in Fulton County Common Pleas Court will return to court Thursday to continue deliberating the case against a former Maumee man charged with fatally beating a Swanton girl in 1985.

The jury, which has been hearing testimony in the case against Walter E. Zimbeck, II, 45, of Strawberry Plains, Tenn., since June 19, began deliberating shortly after 4 p.m. today, but was sent home by visiting Judge Sumner Walters about 6:30 p.m.

Mr. Zimbeck had faced charges of aggravated murder and murder in the slaying of Lori Ann Hill, 14, but after the defense rested Tuesday morning, Judge Walters dismissed the more serious charge of aggravated murder against Mr. Zimbeck.

Prosecutors have portrayed Mr. Zimbeck as a possessive former boyfriend of Miss Hill’s who killed her out of jealousy after she broke up with him. Defense attorneys have argued that the prosecution has no evidence to back up its theory and that DNA evidence did not link Mr. Zimbeck to the victim.

Mr. Zimbeck was 18 at the time of the murder. Miss Hill, a freshman at Swanton High School, was last seen Oct. 25, 1985, after a Halloween party in Swanton walking on South Berkey-Southern Road not far from her home. She never came home. Four days later, her body was found by a deer hunter in a wooded area about 7 miles northeast of Wauseon.

Mr. Zimbeck, who has no criminal record, was indicted in July, 2009 by a Fulton County grand jury for Miss Hill’s death following an eight-month investigation by the Toledo-Lucas County cold-case unit and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.

In January, 2010, Fulton County Common Pleas Judge James Barber dismissed the case against Mr. Zimbeck saying it was unlikely he could receive a fair trial so many years after the murder. In May, 2011, the Sixth District Court of Appeals reversed Judge Barber’s decision, and Mr. Zimbeck was again charged with the crime.

The jury, which has been hearing testimony since June 19, began deliberating shortly after 4 p.m.

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