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Published: Wednesday, 7/1/2009

Rister found guilty of murder


After deliberating for about four hours, a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge found Dana Todd Rister guilty of murder in the strangulation death of a woman whose body was found last June in a shed near the former Southwyck Mall.

Rister, 43, of 2223 Laurel Valley Dr., was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. He was convicted after a 1 -day trial before Judge Gene Zmuda.

The body of Debra Pioterek, 57, was found in a shed on June 26, 2008. She had been manually strangled.

Rister was arrested three months later in California after Toledo police received a tip on the crime. In a lengthy statement made to San Bernadino County Sheriff's detectives, Rister confessed to strangling Ms. Pioterek and attempting to cut off her hand so as to get rid of and DNA under her fingernails.

During the trial, attorney David Klucas argued self defense on behalf of his client. He said Rister came across a bundle of clothing in a dark, small shed and that he was scared when it came to life with what Rister described as a inhuman scream.

Mr. Klucas asked Judge Zmuda to imagine those moments in the dark, claiming that they were immediate and intense, when he rendered his verdict.

Assistant County Prosecutors Jevne Meader and Rob Miller countered the claims of self defense by saying that death by strangulation takes time - time in which Rister could have made different choices.

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