THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Tiffany Wilborn’s parents said they already knew that their daughter’s death was not self-inflicted nor an accident. But with a guilty verdict for murder from a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury, others will know it also.
So it was with relief that they watched Charles Toyer, Jr., be sentenced Friday to prison for life for the March 11 stabbing death of his live-in girlfriend and the mother of his infant daughter.
“Even after killing my daughter, he continued his disrespect of her by lying and saying she stabbed herself, then that she charged the knife, and allowing the defense attorney to refer to her as a depressed drunk,” said Natall Triplett, Sr., Ms. Wilborn’s father. “These are not the signs of someone who loves someone and who is sorry for [his] actions.”
Toyer, 21, was found guilty of murder Thursday after a four-day trial with nearly 100 exhibits and the testimony of 16 witnesses, including three for the defense. The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for more than five hours before reaching a verdict.
During the trial, defense attorneys argued that the stabbing was an accident that occurred during an argument. Attorney Richard Kerger argued to the jury that Toyer was holding a knife to fend off an aggressive Ms. Wilborn when she stepped into the blade.
Mr. Kerger noted at the sentencing that Judge Dean Mandros was bound by statutory requirements to impose a life sentence and so declined further comment.
Toyer also declined to comment prior to being sentenced.
Assistant county prosecutors told jurors during the trial that Ms. Wilborn’s death was the result of a purposeful action and pointed to the testimony of a deputy Lucas County coroner who said that the force needed to pierce multiple layers of tissue and go through the heart is such that it could not have been done accidentally.
A mother of two, Ms. Wilborn, 23, died of a 3½-inch stab wound through her heart.
Judge Mandros said he agreed with the jury verdict and pointed to Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett’s testimony that the trajectory and depth of the knife wound were not indicative of a self-inflicted or accidental death.
The judge noted Toyer’s recorded interview with Toledo police Detective Kermit Quinn, in which he told the detective he didn’t want to say what happened and in effect offered an admission of criminal conduct.
The judge then questioned Toyer about the defendant’s own parents.
Judge Mandros said he learned from letters from Toyer’s family that they had been killed as a result of gun violence.
“Is that right that you grew up parentless as a result of violent interaction against your parents?” the judge asked.
“And so the cycle continues,” the judge responded. “Your own daughter now will grow up without a mother and father.”
In his comments to the judge, Mr. Triplett read a poem by Ms. Wilborn. He said the words expressed the strength and love his daughter had to share.
After the sentencing, Ms. Wilborn’s mother, Demisha Wilborn, expressed thanks to the jury, assistant prosecutors, and detective in the case. She said the verdict showed her daughter was not the “depressed drunk” that Toyer had tried to show. “She was a woman who loved someone and just wanted him to love her back,” she said. “And for that,” Mr. Triplett added, “she got killed.”
Toyer will first be eligible for parole after serving 15 years in prison. He reacted little during the sentencing and was led immediately from the courtroom.
Mr. Kerger said that his client intends to appeal.
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