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Published: Wednesday, 3/2/2005

Detectives testify in '98 death of youth

The jury in the aggravated murder trial of Walter Triplett yesterday heard testimony from police detectives about the investigation into the beating death of 17-year-old Paul Wiggins.

Triplett, 51, is accused of killing young Wiggins, who was found Nov. 22, 1998, in an apartment at 3327 North Detroit Ave., where Triplett was living at the time.

The trial began Monday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in the courtroom of Judge Thomas Osowik. Triplett is also charged with aggravated robbery.

Wiggins, who sold drugs from Triplett's home, was severely beaten on the head, chest, and abdomen with a blunt instrument. His body was found under a table in the kitchen of the second-floor apartment.

Triplett, who now lives at 1231 Moore St., was arrested three days later and subsequently indicted for murder in the teenager's death. However, prosecutors dismissed the case in 1999 because a key witness didn't want to testify.

The police department's cold-case unit, which investigates unsolved homicides and other crimes, reopened the case in 2003, locating new witnesses and physical evidence.

Detective James Scott said suspected blood was found on an athletic shoe that was taken from Triplett when he was arrested in 1998. Police kept the shoe in the department property room as evidence in the case.

A scientific analysis of the blood on the size 13 shoe matched that of the victim, Detective Scott said.

Detective Scott said the witness who declined to testify was interviewed again and statements were taken from other witnesses, including the defendant's ex-girlfriend.

The jury earlier heard Detective William Goetz testify as to blood spatter and other evidence that was found in the defendant's apartment.

Detective Goetz said young Wiggins suffered at least nine wounds to the head.

The trial is expected to continue today.

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