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Published: Wednesday, 4/6/2005

Testimony begins in '98 murder trial

A woman testified yesterday that Walter Triplett confessed to beating Paul Wiggins three days after the 17-year-old was found dead in Triplett's Toledo apartment.

Testifying at Triplett's aggravated murder trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Cheryl Coleman said Triplett went to her home on Hill Avenue on Nov. 25, 1998, and told her that he was in trouble.

Coleman is currently in prison for a parole violation for a grand theft conviction and was dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit.

She said that Triplett was frantic and dazed, and told her he "had to beat the little dude down."

Young Wiggins was found Nov. 22, 1998, in the defendant's second floor apartment in the 3300 block of North Detroit Avenue. He was found under the kitchen table. He was beaten severely on the head, chest, and abdomen with a blunt instrument.

Although Coleman said Triplett didn't directly admit to killing the teenager, she said he told her "I beat him up under the table."

Coleman said she got in her car and followed the defendant's car as it drove east on Hill. She said she decided to report the incident to police when the car reached the police department's Scott Park district station on Nebraska Avenue.

When asked why she went to police, Coleman said her two youngest sons, then teenagers, were selling drugs, and she didn't want them to end up like the victim.

Triplett, 51, was arrested a short time later. He was indicted, but the case was dismissed in 1999 when a witness refused to testify.

Also testifying was Carol Spidel, whose testimony last month caused Judge Thomas Osowik to declare a mistrial. She said Triplett had been in prison for a crime, a statement the judge said could have wrongly influenced the jury.

Ms. Spidel testified yesterday Triplett went to her home on Grand Avenue on Nov. 20, 1998, and asked to borrow her car. She said she allowed him to use it, but that he got upset when she refused to give him the trunk key.

Ms. Spidel found the victim in Triplett's apartment when she went to get her car back.

Testimony in the trial is expected to resume today.



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