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Daughter of woman slain in 2007 expected to testify this afternoon

UPDATE: Testimony in the Ralph Wright Jr. capital murder case took longer than expected Tuesday. The victim's daughter now isn't slated to take the stand until Wednesday.

This afternoon's testimony may determine the fate of Ralph "Ron" Wright Jr., who is on trial for the murder of his former lover and their 15-month-old son.

Early one morning in July 2007, Paula O'Conner was strangled in her St. Petersburg home. The attacker then turned to the boy, pressing his face into the bottom of his crib until he too stopped breathing.

Wright's attorney, William Bennett, has said O'Conner's daughter had a more compelling reason to murder her mother and brother than anyone else: money.

O'Conner had, among multiple policies, $540,000 in life insurance, $400,000 of which would have gone into a trust for her son. Because both she and Alijah died, the money went to O'Conner's then-teenage daughter, Victoria "Tori" Goodin, now 24.

Reached last week, Goodin, who is now married and uses the last name Christopher, called the defense attorney's assertion "crazy." She is expected to take the stand within the next few hours.

Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty, say Wright's motive was clear.

Three weeks before the killings, O'Conner had Wright served with papers in the MacDill Air Force Base parking lot informing him that she was suing for child support. Wright wanted to maintain his bachelor lifestyle and avoid thousands of dollars in child care costs, according to Assistant State Attorney Jim Hellickson.

During his opening statement last week, the prosecutor described Wright, now 44, as a habitual liar who maintained multiple relationships despite being married.

"One person in the world — one person — had a motive to kill Alijah," the prosecutor said. "One person had a motive to kill Paula."

Daughter of woman slain in 2007 expected to testify this afternoon 01/22/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 7:19pm]
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