Jury finds former Air Force Sergeant Ralph Wright Jr. guilty of murdering ex-lover, son

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - A Pinellas County jury convicted a former MacDill sergeant of murdering his lover and their 15-month-old child in 2007.

Ralph Wright showed little emotion when the verdict came down Thursday afternoon.

Prosecutors say Wright didn't want to pay child support so he strangled his girlfriend, Paula O'Connor and suffocated their young boy, Alijah.

Wright was married to another woman at the time.

"Such a relief to have a guilty verdict," said Victoria Christopher, O'Connor's daughter. "I'm very, very happy."

Several of O'Connor's relatives sat through the month-long trial, anxiously waiting for the verdict. It took the jury roughly 12 hours to reach a decision.

"It'll never go away. I'll always remember them. There will always be pain there. I think my family and myself can put this behind us a little bit and move on," she said.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.

The jury will return to the courthouse Friday morning for the start of the penalty phase. They will decide whether or not to recommend that Wright get the death penalty.

"Obviously we're disappointed about the verdict and we'll go from here, we'll take the next step," said WIlliam Bennett, one of Wright's defense attorneys, as he left the courthouse.

Wright's family had no comment, but could be seen crying after the verdict came down.

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