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Published: Friday, 6/11/2010

Doren convicted again for 1991 murder

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - For the second time, Ralph Doren yesterday was pronounced guilty of aggravated murder for cutting the throat of 19-year-old Deanna Meeks of Northwood in 1991.

Doren, 60, was promptly sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 20 years.

Wood County Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex, who heard the four-day trial, asked Doren if he wanted to make a statement before sentencing. Doren replied simply, "Not here in Wood County."

The former Sylvania man was convicted of the same charge following a jury trial in 2006, but his conviction was thrown out by the 6th District Court of Appeals in 2009. The appeals court ruled that Common Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey should have declared a mistrial when prosecutors inadvertently played a tape for the jury in which Doren mentioned a polygraph examination. The judge had ruled before the start of the trial that no references to a polygraph were to be admitted as evidence.

Wood County Prosecutor Paul

Dobson was pleased with Judge Pollex's verdict in the second trial. "It is a great confirmation to again be able to call the family and tell them their daughter's murder has been answered again," Mr. Dobson said.

Prosecutors argued that Doren, who had worked in the body shop of Dave White Chevrolet with the victim's mother's boyfriend, Boyd "Smitty" Smith, knew that Mr. Smith kept money and other valuables in his Lester Avenue home in Northwood. They also said Doren killed Miss Meeks when she interrupted a daytime burglary he committed there June 7, 1991.

Defense attorney Dave Klucas contended no physical evidence linked Doren to the murder or the crime scene - a fact that prevented the case from being solved for so many years.

What changed, Mr. Dobson said, was that in 1997 Doren offered to reveal the identity of Miss Meeks' killer if they could arrange his release from prison. He is serving a 30-to-60-year sentence in Michigan for an unrelated 1993 rape in Monroe County.

Though Doren never named her alleged killer, he led investigators to jewelry that was stolen in the burglary and discarded.

Mr. Dobson said the testimony and evidence presented during this week's retrial was largely the same as what the jury heard in 2006, though one witness had died since the first trial and several others "testified" via transcripts of their testimony in the first trial. "I think it's a great vindication of the first jury's verdict," Mr. Dobson said afterward.

Mr. Klucas could not be reached for comment.

Judge Pollex, who rendered his verdict about 5:40 p.m., ordered that Doren's sentence be served concurrently with the one he is serving in Michigan.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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