Closing arguments in Wright murder trial - WFLA News Channel 8

Closing arguments in Wright murder trial

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Ralph Wright, in court during his murder trial in January. Ralph Wright, in court during his murder trial in January.
HERNANDO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

After three weeks of testimony in a Pinellas courtroom, the murder trial of former MacDill Sgt. Ralph Wright is coming to an end. Wright is accused of strangling to death his former girlfriend Paula O'Conner and his 15 month old son Alijah in 2007.

In closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Jim Hellickson concentrated on motive.

"The defendant saw him as a liability, a financial burden, and anchor holding him back from his bachelor lifestyle he so craved," said Hellickson.

At the time, Wright, a married man, had not acknowledged Alijah as his son. Paula created a web site, called militarydeadbeatdads.com.

Finally on June 12th she served him paternity papers and was seeking help paying for Alijah's medical bills.

But the defense argued motive doesn't mean murder and DNA experts disagreed on the evidence linking Wright to the scene. Wright's attorney, Bill Bennett said while Wright may be a womanizer, he's not a killer.

"Not being a good husband does not make him a murderer and that's what this case has boiled down to, not let's find out what happened, lets call him a bad man and because he's a bad man, convict him of murder," said Bennett.

The defense also said the police did not investigate other suspects thoroughly, including the victim's teenaged daughter, who received a half-million dollar insurance benefit.

The state is seeking the death penalty in this case. Jury deliberations for a verdict are expected to begin first thing Wednesday morning.

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