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Published: Tuesday, 9/19/2006

Murder trial could go to jury tomorrow

A Toledo police detective testified yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court that Kelvin Tyler admitted to burglarizing the apartment of murder victim Rubie Petterson.

Detective Denise Muszynski said Tyler told investigators in June that he was in the 75-year-old woman's South Toledo apartment, contradicting a statement he made days after she was brutally beaten.

Tyler, who lived near Ms. Petterson in Flory Gardens on Nebraska Avenue near Byrne Road, could be sentenced to death if he is found guilty of the murder.

Closing arguments in the trial are set for later today. Judge Gary Cook told jurors they will be given instructions tomorrow, after which they will begin deliberations. They will be sequestered until they reach a verdict, which must be unanimous.

If the panel finds Tyler guilty of the aggravated murder charge, a second phase of the trial will begin in which each side will argue whether the death penalty is an appropriate sentence.

The jury then would deliberate to decide whether to recommend the death penalty to Judge Cook, who is presiding over the trial. Tyler, 50, also is charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

In the second day of testimony, prosecutors played a videotaped interview of the defendant conducted three days after a building maintenance worker found Ms. Petterson on April 20, 2005. She died two weeks later.

Tyler repeatedly denied to Detective Muszynski that he was in the victim's apartment or involved in her death.

However, Detective Muszynski said that Tyler, when re-interviewed in June, admitted to burglarizing the apartment by entering from the outside through the air conditioning unit. The jurors will watch the videotape of that interview today when the detective returns to the witness stand.

Prosecutors also called a scientific expert to the stand who had handled and analyzed the evidence taken from Ms. Petterson's ransacked apartment.

Linsey Hail, of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, said she found Tyler's DNA on an antacid bottle, one of 15 items found in the apartment. Ms. Hail said testing showed a mixture of DNA belonging to the defendant, Ms. Petterson, and a third, unknown person. The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today.



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