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Published: Friday, 4/8/2005

Deliberations in murder trial of Triplett expected to begin

A jury in Lucas County Common Pleas Court will hear closing arguments and begin deliberations today in the aggravated murder trial of Walter Triplett.

Triplett, 51, is charged in the Nov. 20, 1998, beating death of Paul Wiggins, who was found two days later in Triplett's apartment at 3327 North Detroit Ave.

The jury yesterday heard Dr. Diane Barnett, a Lucas County deputy coroner, testify about the injuries inflicted on the 17-year-old victim.

Dr. Barnett said young Wiggins was beaten on the head, face, chest, and abdomen with a blunt instrument, which may have been a pipe because of a circular pattern of bruising and lacerations on the body. The weapon used in the murder was not found.

She said the victim was struck nearly 20 times on the head, his liver was lacerated, and he suffered multiple rib fractures. She said he died from multiple blunt-force injuries from a beating. The deputy coroner also testified that blood-stain evidence indicated that young Wiggins was beaten while he was under the kitchen table, where his body was found.

In addition to aggravated murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison, the jury will be asked to convict Triplett of aggravated robbery for allegedly robbing the victim of drugs and money.

David Barnes, a witness for the defendant, testified that the small amount of the victim's blood found on Triplett's tennis shoe was inconsistent with an apparent violent event as indicated in photographs and the coroner's autopsy.

He said he would have expected considerably more blood on the defendant's shoe.

Mr. Barnes is a retired special agent with the Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation, a state bureau that helps local law enforcement agencies process crime scenes and tests evidence for DNA.

Triplett was arrested five days after the murder, but the charge was dismissed in March, 1999, because a witness refused to testify. The investigation was reopened in 2003 after a new witness came forward with information.

Judge Thomas Osowik is presiding over the trial, which began Monday.

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