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Published: Tuesday, 10/2/2001

Toledoan on trial in '91 killing

Christopher A. Early, seeking revenge for the burglary of his home, shot Ronnie Draper 10 years ago under a railroad viaduct in a central city intersection, a Lucas County prosecutor told a jury yesterday.

Mr. Early, 28, of 1513 South Reynolds Rd. is on trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for the aggravated murder of Mr. Draper.

Tim Braun, an assistant county prosecutor, said Mr. Draper was shot twice in the back of the head by Mr. Early after he learned Mr. Draper was involved in the burglary of Mr. Early's former home in the 2100 block of Forest Avenue.

Mr. Draper, who was 22 at the time, was found July 25, 1991, by a passer-by at Post and Albion streets. He died two days later in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

Mr. Braun said Mr. Draper, who lived in the 2400 block of North Detroit Avenue, was lured to the unlit street corner by Leonard Guard Wiggins on the pretense of meeting women and going to a party.

Mr. Braun said Wiggins, who lived next door, kept a dog quiet while two others broke into the house and stole drugs and money. He said Mr. Early threatened to hurt Wiggins if he didn't bring Mr. Draper to the street corner, but he didn't know that Mr. Early planned to shoot Mr. Draper.

“Wiggins was told there was going to be a beating,” Mr. Braun said.

Mr. Draper, who also is charged with kidnapping, was indicted last May. His trial, which is being heard before Judge Charles Wittenberg of Common Pleas Court, continues today.

Wiggins, who also was indicted for Mr. Draper's murder, pleaded guilty in April to the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for his testimony against Mr. Early. Wiggins, who is being held in the Lucas County jail, could be sentenced to at least seven years in prison.

Mr. Early was released from prison in 1998 after serving a four-year sentence for attempted drug trafficking.

Maurice Robinson, who was a friend of the victim, testified that on the night of the shooting Wiggins went to Mr. Draper's house, inviting him to the party. He said Wiggins returned alone several hours later and then drove away.



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