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Slaying suspect pleads not guilty

A man charged with second-degree manslaughter in a Jan. 1 shooting has pleaded not guilty.

Stephen J. Wigginton, 28, entered the plea during an arraignment Wednesday in Fayette District Court to a charge of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Robert Jay McAlpin, 27.

Investigators say Wigginton was "mishandling a firearm" when the weapon fired and the bullet struck McAlpin in the head.

However, McAlpin's father said Wednesday he thinks Wigginton should be charged with murder.

Tim McAlpin readily says that no one other than those present know the exact circumstances that led to his son's death early on Jan. 1 at a house on Southpoint Drive.

He thinks Wigginton did not simply mishandle the gun as police have said.

Jay McAlpin kept the weapon — a .357 Magnum revolver — on his night stand, his father said.

Tim McAlpin questions the police account of the shooting. He also doesn't think the two men were friends, as police have said.

He said his son had known Wigginton since their days at Tates Creek High School. But they had had words recently over McAlpin's separation from his wife.

Wigginton and an attorney declined to comment after leaving court Wednesday. Wigginton is scheduled to return to court at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 30.

Lexington Police Lt. James Curless said detectives charged Wigginton based on the evidence found in their investigation.

Second-degree manslaughter is filed when a person "wantonly causes the death of another person," according to Kentucky Revised Statutes.

Curless declined to discuss specifics of the case because it will be presented before a Fayette grand jury, which will hear the evidence and has the power to alter the charge.

"We charged him with what we thought was appropriate," he said.

Jay McAlpin was a manager of one of his family's businesses, his father said. He had talked about returning to college and eventually pursuing a law degree.

A man of strong Christian faith, in April Jay McAlpin bought a few billboards around Lexington quoting 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. It was a passage his great-grandfather had taught his father. Now, he was teaching his young son, Cameron, McAlpin said.

New Year's Eve, McAlpin saw his son sitting in his pickup studying his devotional before coming inside. A few hours later, he was dead.

"It's an awful thing. It's been the biggest blow certainly in my life ... but I know Jay is in heaven," he said.