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Published: Tuesday, 3/1/2005

Murder suspect admitted guilt, prosecutor says

A man accused in the 1998 beating death of a 17-year-old Toledo youth confessed to others that he committed the murder, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor told a jury yesterday.

Ian English, the assistant prosecutor, said in his opening statement that Walter Triplett confessed to two women that he killed the teenager.

He said both will testify during the trial.

Triplett, 51, of 1231 Moore St., is charged with aggravated murder and aggravated robbery. The case is being heard in the Common Pleas courtroom of Judge Thomas Osowick.

A month away from his 18th birthday, Paul Wiggins was found Nov. 22, 1998, in Triplett's apartment in the 3300 block of North Detroit Avenue. He had been struck repeatedly in the head, chest, and abdomen with a blunt instrument.

Mr. English said the victim sold drugs from Triplett's home.

The teenager was found under a table in the defendant's kitchen. He had been dead several days.

Triplett was arrested three days later and indicted for the murder, but prosecutors dismissed the case in 1999 after a key witness refused to testify.

The Toledo police cold-case unit reopened the investigation in 2003, locating new witnesses and physical evidence.

Mr. English said the new evidence includes droplets of blood on Triplett's shoe that was scientifically identified as belonging to the victim.

However, Ron Wingate, an attorney for Triplett, asked the jury to question why only a small amount of the blood was on the shoe when the victim was severely beaten.

The trial is expected to resume today.

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