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Jurors seated in capital murder trial in Van Wert County

By J SWYGART • Sep 20, 2017 at 11:00 AM

VAN WERT (TNS) — Jurors in the aggravated murder trial of Christopher Peters were seated Monday afternoon.

The 12 jurors and two alternates, along with attorneys and court officials, then traveled to the scene of the alleged crime in Delphos as what is expected to be a week-long trial with capital punishment implications got fully underway.

Peters, 27, of Delphos, is charged with aggravated murder in the death of 15-month-old Hayden Ridinger on Nov. 15 at The Old Lincoln Inn, 24249 Lincoln Highway on the west edge of Delphos. If convicted, Peters could face the death penalty. He previously pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder; felonious assault, a second-degree felony; and endangering children by abuse, a felony of the second degree.

The mother of the victim, 24-year-old Valerie Dean, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in connection with her son's death. The infant's body was found inside an apartment at 24249 Lincoln Highway in Van Wert County. Her case will be heard separately from that of Peters.

Judge Martin Burchfield is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last at least a week.

Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick is presenting the state's case against Peters as the special counsel appointed by Burchfield. He is being assisted by Van Wert County Prosecutor Eva Yarger. Lima attorney Bill Kluge is serving as the lead defense attorney, joined by fellow Lima attorney Bob Grzybowski.

During the jury selection process that ran throughout most of the day Monday, prospective jurors were questioned about their knowledge of the case, their views on the death penalty, and whether the fact that the victim in the case was an infant would cloud their decision-making process. Many potential jurors were excused after saying they believed they could not be fair and impartial in judging the facts of the case for various reasons.

By mid-afternoon Monday, 23 potential jurors had been selected to be part of the jury pool. Shortly after 3 p.m. a jury of six men and six women — along with two alternates — was sworn in to get the trial underway.

Jurors will hear opening arguments from attorneys Tuesday morning.

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(c)2017 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio)

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