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Published: Thursday, 6/10/2010

Man sentenced in Wood County to life in prison for 1991 death


A former Sylvania resident was ordered to serve life in prison after being found guilty in Wood County Common Pleas Court Thursday night of the 1991 murder of 19-year-old Deanna Meeks.

Judge Robert Pollex found Ralph Doren, 60, guilty of aggravated murder in the death that investigators believe was a burglary at the Northwood home Ms. Meeks shared with her mother, Joyce Baird, and Ms. Baird's boyfriend, Boyd "Smitty" Smith.

Ms. Meeks' throat was cut and she was left to die in a pool of her own blood.

The life sentence would run concurrently to a 30-to-60-year prison sentence Doren is serving in Michigan for an unrelated 1993 rape in Monroe County. He would be eligible for parole in Wood County after 20 years.

In 2006, a jury found Doren guilty of the crime, but the 6th District Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 2009, saying Judge Reeve Kelsey should have declared a mistrial when prosecutors inadvertently played a tape for the jury in which Doren mentioned a polygraph examination. No references to a polygraph were to be admitted as evidence during the trial.

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