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Published: Tuesday, 4/5/2005

2nd trial under way in '98 beating death

The second trial of a Toledo man who is accused in the 1998 beating death of 17-year-old Paul Wiggins began yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

A jury was selected in the aggravated murder and aggravated robbery trial of Walter Triplett, 51, whose trial last month ended on the third day in a mistrial.

Triplett, of 1231 Moore St., is accused of killing young Wiggins, whose badly beaten body was found Nov. 22, 1998, under a kitchen table in a second-floor apartment in the 3300 block of North Detroit Avenue, where the defendant lived at the time.

Judge Thomas Osowik declared a mistrial last month after a witness testified that Triplett served time in prison for robbery. The judge said the statement could have wrongly influenced the jury.

The witness, Carol Spidel, is among the acquaintances of Triplett that the jury will hear during the retrial, Ian English, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said during opening statements.

The witnesses and scientific evidence that was gathered after the investigation was reopened in 2003 will show that Triplett killed young Wiggins, Mr. English said.

Prosecutors believe Triplett killed and robbed young Wiggins of drugs that he was selling from the defendant's home.

Triplett was arrested three days after the victim was found in his apartment, but the case was dismissed in 1999 when a witness refused to testify.

Ron Wingate, Triplett's attorney, told the jury that when the trial resumes today, prosecution witnesses will include a woman who is in prison for a robbery conviction.

"The state cannot prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt because Mr. Triplett is innocent," Mr. Wingate said.

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