CLEARWATER, Fla. - The accused, Ralph "Ron" Wright, showed no emotion and stared straight ahead during opening statements in his double murder trial Wednesday. "The defendant grabbed the neck and squeezed the neck," said one prosecutor in describing killings in July, 2007.
Wright, a former Air Force Sgt. once stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Paula O'Conner and their then 15-month old son Alijah. The boy had serious medical problems, and Wright initially denied the child was his.
In opening statements, the prosecution said Wright is the only person with the chance and a motive in the killings. The prosecution said, "He didn't want to have to assume the responsibility, financial responsibility, of taking care, paying for that medical support. He didn't want that financial responsibility of past child support."
In detailing a web of lies, multiple mistresses and a double life that included a wife in Orlando, prosecutors told the jury O'Conner and Alijah were burdens to Wright. The prosecution said Wright didn't want Alijah interfering with that bachelor-type lifestyle he so enjoyed.
The defense claimed, in their opening statements, that Wright is not the person who strangled O'Conner and suffocated the child. The defense alleged lazy detective work and pointed out that O'Conner's daughter, Victoria, stood to gain from the deaths because of an insurance policy. The defense said, "Victoria's relationship with her mother was strained."
The State's first witness, O'Conner's boss, Tonya Rivera, described Victoria as loving, especially to her brother, Alijah. "Definitely a bond. It was just amazing to see them together. She was like his second mother," Rivera said.
Former St. Pete police officer Mark Blackwood, who first found O'Conner and Alijah dead in their home, also testified about Victoria. "Grieving, inconsolable. She was very upset, as one could imagine," Blackwood described of the moment Victoria learned her mother and brother were dead.
The prosecution said they expect Victoria to testify on Thursday.
The prosecution is seeking the death penalty and expects the trial to last three weeks.
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