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Published: Thursday, 6/10/2010

Murder case from '01 gets reconsidered

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Wilder Wilder
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Nearly nine years after Archie Wilder began serving his life sentence for a 2001 aggravated murder conviction, his case is once again being considered in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Wilder, 36, filed a motion in 2008 requesting a new trial based on the discovery of evidence. After a hearing that spanned three separate court dates and included the testimony of eight witnesses, Judge Ruth Ann Franks yesterday took the issue under advisement.

Both defense attorneys and assistant prosecutors will be able to submit final written arguments prior to Judge Franks' issuing a ruling.

A jury convicted Wilder of aggravated murder with a gun specification on Aug. 8, 2001, after a three-day trial. He was found guilty of the February, 2001, shooting death of Richard Lamonte Phillips, 31.

As part of the original trial testimony, co-defendant Nicholas Conner testified against Wilder. Conner subsequently pleaded guilty to felonious assault and was sentenced Sept. 1, 2001, to four years community control.

On Aug. 29, 2001, Judge Franks sentenced Wilder to 23 years to life in prison plus a consecutive 10 years for being a repeat violent offender, as well as ordered him to serve the remainder of a 17-year sentence he previously had been given for a 1991 murder.

In 2008, Wilder filed a motion on his own behalf requesting a new trial and attached two affidavits of witnesses who claimed to have subsequently learned that it was Conner who pulled the trigger that ended Mr. Phillips' life.

"It has been just recently that people have been willing to talk and tell the truth," he wrote. "I could not make these individuals come forth; they had to do that of their own accord."

Witnesses first testified in October about alleged knowledge that it was not Wilder but Conner who shot Mr. Phillips. One of the witnesses further testified that she believed the information written in her affidavit to be true, but it was Wilder who had written it for her to sign.

In May, Wilder himself testified that others heard Conner admit to the crime but were unwilling to come forward until recently.

Also testifying in May was Rodney Love, who claimed to have spoken to the assistant prosecutors involved in Wilder's case about a conversation he had with Conner in which he allegedly confessed to the shooting.

The hearing concluded yesterday with four witnesses called by assistant prosecutors, including former Assistant Lucas County prosecutors Robert Clark and Timothy Westrick.

Mr. Clark, who recently retired, and Mr. Westrick, who now works as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, both refuted Love's testimony that he spoke to them about Conner's alleged confession.

Also testifying was the victim's brother, who said he did not tell anyone that he knew Wilder was not the killer, as was written in one of the affidavits filed with Wilder's motion.

Conner was not called as a witness.

Additional written arguments from the attorneys are due next month.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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