Testimony begins in the murder trial of former MacDill Sergeant - WFLA News Channel 8

Testimony begins in the murder trial of former MacDill Sergeant

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Ralph Wright, on the left, in court Wednesday during his murder trial. Ralph Wright, on the left, in court Wednesday during his murder trial.
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL -

After 5 years, former MacDill Air Force Base Sgt. Ralph Wright is finally on trial. He's accused of murdering his girlfriend, Paula O'Conner, and his 15 month old Alijah.

The two victims were found dead in O'Conner's St. Petersburg home on July 6, 2007.

During opening statements today, Asst. State Attorney James Hellickson described how O'Conner was strangled.  "The defendant grabbed Paula O'Conner around the neck and began to squeeze, he squeezed so hard it was difficult for her to breathe."

Alijah was found smothered, face down in his crib.

Hellickson told jurors the toddler, Alijah, was the main target. Before the murders, O'Conner had filed a paternity suit against Wright and was seeking child support. She also needed help paying for medical bills because Alijah was born with heart defects and had several surgeries.

"Only one person had the motive to kill Alijah, who did not want the responsibility, did not want the medical bills, did not want to pay back child support," said Hellickson.

Prosecutors also told the jury that DNA on a military pilot's glove found at the murder scene, matched Wright and the victims.

But Wright's attorney said investigators ignored other tips and leads and only focused on Wright as a suspect. Attorney William Bennett pointed at O'Conner's teenaged daughter, Victoria. She benefited from a $540,000 insurance policy upon the deaths of her mother and step-brother.

"The person who gained the most financially from the death of the baby was Victoria Goodin," said Bennett.

There are more than 70 witnesses on the list for this trial and it could last three weeks.

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