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Published: Saturday, 4/9/2005

Jury convicts man of murder for death of 17-year-old

Walter Triplett showed no emotion last night when a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury convicted him for the 1998 beating death and robbery of a Toledo teenager.

Triplett, 51, was found guilty of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery for killing 17-year-old Paul Wiggins and taking about $1,000 from his pocket.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for the murder and an additional 10 years for the robbery when Judge Thomas Osowik sentences him April 19.

The verdicts were met with gasps of happiness and relief, and many of the victim's family members cried and hugged.

"We have been waiting for this for seven years," said Lisa Jelks, the mother of young Wiggins, as she left the courtroom.

Her son was found Nov. 22, 1998, in Triplett's second-floor apartment at 3327 North Detroit Ave.

Triplett was arrested several days later and indicted for murder. However, a witness who was threatened refused to testify, causing prosecutors to dismiss the case in March, 1999.

The case languished until January, 2003, when someone contacted Toledo police detectives with new information, and the case was reopened by the department's cold-case unit.

Investigators tested a tennis shoe taken off the defendant when he was arrested in 1998, and a DNA analysis showed the presence of the victim's blood.

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