Jury still deliberating fate of former MacDill sergeant - WFLA News Channel 8

Jury still deliberating fate 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.
HERNANDO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A Pinellas jury began deliberating at 9:30 Wednesday morning to decide the fate of former MacDill Air Force Base Sgt. Ralph Wright.  He is charged with the first degree murder of his girlfriend , Paula O'Conner, and his 15 month old son, Alijah. The two victims were found dead in O'Conner's St. Petersburg home on July 6, 2007.

During the three week trial, prosecutors drove home the point that 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 a military pilot's glove was found at the murder scene.

Wright's attorney, Bill Bennett, 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 Goodwin," said Bennett.

The state is seeking the dealth penalty. If Wright is found guilty, the same jury will hear arguments on the penalty phase tomorrow. The jury will make a recommendation, but the judge will ultimately decide on the sentence.

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