Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

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Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:35 pm

Ryan Widmer murder conviction overturned. The local community is somewhat divided on this, but many feel Ryan was wrongly convicted. At first, Sarah's parents did not believe Ryan could do this. They had only been married 4 months. I have a friend that knew Sarah and her family. Friends say she fell asleep a lot and suffered from headaches. From watching the trial, and now this, I still have not been able to come to a decision for myself. It's what the first arriving officer had to report that made me think things did not add up, along with bruises on Sarah's neck. Prosecutors, coroner and police feel foul play was involved, resulting in a murder conviction for Ryan.

The 28-year-old Warren County man was convicted in April of murder in the drowning death of his wife, 24-year-old Sarah Widmer, but a judge overturned that verdict in July due to jury misconduct and ordered a new trial.

Prosecutors said earlier this week that they would not appeal the decision to Ohio's Supreme Court, clearing the way for a new trial that likely will be held in January.

Showcased on Dateline tonight. Sorry, I posted this late Embarassed


Last edited by Justice4all on Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:52 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : addition)

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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Justice4all on Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:06 pm

Thanks for posting this Piper. I don't know much about this case, but it's hard to believe that somebody could fall asleep, then roll over face down in the water and drown without waking up.

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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:33 pm

That's just it, j4a......even with a history of falling asleep, prosecutors felt she would have choked, etc and woke herself up. But, then again, maybe she couldn't do that, I just don't know. I've gone back and forth on this one.

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Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Mon May 24, 2010 10:47 pm

Ryan Widmer and new bride of four months, Sarah

Ryan Widmer, a 27 year old man, was charged with murder just 2 days after he found his wife unresponsive in their bathtub, on August 11, 2008. Ryan was downstairs watching TV, when his wife of only 114 days kissed him goodnight and told him she was going upstairs to take a bath. This was part of Sarah Widmer’s regular routine as she loved to take long baths. Ryan went upstairs about ½ hour to 45 minutes later to walk into their bathroom and find Sarah unresponsive in the tub. Ryan tried as best he could to perform CPR. The 911 operator didn’t provide any help whatsoever.

After 45 minutes to 1 hour of rigorous CPR and 5 intubation attempts they transported Sarah to the hospital and she was pronounced dead. There were no signs of struggle, no prior history of relationship issues, etc. However, Sarah had not been feeling well the entire day and had a bad headache. She was also known by family and friends to easily fall asleep and had actually fallen asleep in the tub numerous times, even before she met Ryan (as stated by Sarah’s brother). An expert at the trial spoke that in the U.S. every year about 300,000 people under the age of 35 die and that these people’s autopsies do not show any sign of what they died from. That is 2/3 people/state/month. A staggering statistic.

The local police department jumped to the conclusion immediately that Ryan had taken his wife’s life, even though there were no signs or evidence of this fact. Because of this Ryan wasn’t even permitted to go back to see his wife once she was pronounced dead to say goodbye.

Family and friends said the murder charge was a huge mistake. But, Ryan was arrested and sent to jail just 2 days after Sarah’s death. Sarah’s family held off on the funeral and said that it was pending until they could see if they could clear this up for Ryan.

Unfortunately, Ryan’s bail was set at $1,000,000 and he wasn’t able to attend his own wife’s funeral.

This is how the story begins. His trial was originally set for November, but the prosecution, because of their lack of evidence, motive, etc. asked for an extension and his trial was postponed until March. In March, after 8 days of trial he was convicted of murder and sent to prison to serve a 15 year to life sentence. Even though there was not substantial evidence to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Since the trial some of the jurors have come forward to say that they performed “experiments” during their 22 hour deliberations that impacted the outcome of their verdict of “guilty”. The Judge repeatedly during the 8 day trial advised and warned the jury that these experiments were not allowed.


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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Mon May 24, 2010 11:00 pm

Bathtub drowning trial delayed until May

By Denise G. Callahan, Staff Writer
Updated 4:56 PM Monday, February 8, 2010

Ryan Widmer is led out of a Warren County courtroom after being found guilty of murder in the August 2008 drowning of his wife, Sarah, April 2 in Lebanon. Widmer's conviction was later thrown out after Common Pleas Judge Neal Bronson ruled there was jury misconduct during deliberations. Widmer's second trial has been delayed until May.

LEBANON — The retrial for accused killer Ryan Widmer has been postponed until May.

Widmer’s new attorney Hal Arenstein said the retrial has been rescheduled from March 15 to May 10.

“We needed a little more time to line up some experts,” he said.

Widmer, 29, was convicted of murder for allegedly drowning his bride, Sarah Widmer, in the bathtub of their Hamilton Twp. home in August 2008. He was sentenced to 15 years to life on April 2, 2009, following a two-week trial and 22 hours of jury deliberations.

After a bizarre series of events, Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Neal Bronson granted Widmer a new trial last fall after he determined jurors committed misconduct.

Some jurors admitted to experimenting at home to see how long it takes to air dry after bathing. The drowning scene was virtually dry, which led jurors to believe Widmer staged his 911 call after he killed his wife.

Bronson had blocked out three weeks for the retrial. He also was going to call all potential jurors in 10 days prior to the trial, to determine whether any jurors have hardships — like child or elder care obligations — that would prevent them from serving in a lengthy trial.

Widmer has been free on a $400,000 bond since the 12th District Court of Appeals refused to consider Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel’s appeal of Bronson’s retrial ruling. Widmer is living with his mother, Jill Widmer, in Mason.

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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Mon May 24, 2010 11:06 pm

Widmer defense presents key expert at to begin third week of trial

May 24, 12:00 PMCincinnati Crime Examiner Joshua Burns

Dr. Werner U. Spitz, a forensic pathologist who has decades of experience working on some of the nation's most celebrated murder cases, took the stand today as attorneys continued their case in defense of Ryan Widmer in Warren County, Monday. Widmer's retrial on a sole count of murder in the death of his wife has entered its third (and likely final) week of testimony.

Spitz's testimony will center around an autopsy he performed on Sarah Widmer just days after she drowned in her bathtub two years ago. Spitz is testifying on behalf of her husband, Ryan, who is charged with her murder.

Ryan Widmer was convicted of murder last year after a lengthy trial and several days of jury deliberation. However, his conviction was thrown out after Judge Neal Bronson found that several jurors had conducted home experiments in direct violation of jury instructions.

Now, the prosecution again tries to convince a jury that Widmer murdered his wife. The first two weeks of testimony have centered around two theories: the prosecution's theory that Ryan forcibly drowned Sarah in the bathtub; and the defense theory that Sarah had some medical problem (such as a seizure) that caused her to drown without force.

At the first trial, Spitz testified that he found many of the same things that the county coroner (and prosecution expert) found, but there also were some conflicting findings. Most significantly, Spitz last year testified that he disagreed with Dr. Russell Uptegrove's ruling that the manner of Sarah Widmer's death was homicide.

Spitz testified last year that the manner of death was "undetermined", meaning that neither he nor any other expert could discover the manner of Sarah's death.

Spitz, who speaks with a heavy German accent and regularly has both jurors and court-watchers in laughter, has been considered a world-renowned forensic pathologist for decades. He has been an expert in the investigations of the JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations, was a witness in the Jon Benet Ramsey murder and the O.J. Simpson civil trial. He is the author of multiple textbooks and treatises on forensic pathology and testified that he has conducted many studies on drowning.

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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Mon May 24, 2010 11:17 pm

Sarah Widmer's Mom Among Prosecution's Final Witnesses
Gettys: Ryan Widmer's Mother Won't Be Called To Testify

updated 8:15 a.m. ET, Thurs., May 20, 2010


The prosecution is expected to rest Thursday at the retrial of Ryan Widmer, after calling its last witnesses Wednesday. Widmer's defense team is expected to begin calling witnesses Thursday morning.

Widmer was convicted of drowning his wife, Sarah, in April 2009, but the conviction was set aside by a judge after allegations surfaced of juror misconduct during deliberations. Widmer was found not guilty of aggravated murder and cannot be retried on that charge.

Read more:

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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Mon May 24, 2010 11:36 pm

Defense expected to rest its case in Widmer retrial

By Denise G. Callahan, Staff Writer
Updated 9:17 PM Monday, May 24, 2010

LEBANON — The defense is expected to rest its case Tuesday, May 25, in the Ryan Widmer murder retrial after testimony from a key witness.

After nearly five hours on the stand, renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz again concluded Monday, May 24, that Sarah Widmer’s manner of death is undeterminable.

Spitz testified that Sarah Widmer died from drowning, but does not agree with the prosecution’s premise that Ryan Widmer caused her death.

He said the livid bruises Warren County Coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove found on her head and neck were caused by aggressive efforts to revive her, using intubation, IV sticks in her jugular and both arms and constant chest compressions.

The drowning process itself exacerbated the bruising because the water diluted her blood and increased volume and pressure, Spitz said.

Widmer, 29, was found guilty of drowning his wife, Sarah, on Aug. 11, 2008, in their Hamilton Twp. home. The conviction was overturned and a new trial granted because of juror misconduct.

The retrial is in its third week of testimony. The final defense expert is Dr. Chandler Phillips, who is expected to testify the dimensions of both Widmers and the cramped bathroom, plus the lack of defensive wounds, make it impossible Widmer drowned his wife in the bathtub.

Closing statements could conceivably take place Tuesday and the jury could begin deliberations.

Spitz spent nearly an hour Monday morning discussing his extensive background, certification and writings. Spitz was involved in O.J. Simpson’s civil trial and the drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne after then U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge. He also testified before Congress in the assassinations of former President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

Spitz testified he is paid $400 per hour and received $10,000 for his court appearance.

Assistant Prosecutor Travis Vieux sparred with the doctor using Spitz’s own textbook to challenge some of his testimony.

Judge Neal Bronson at one point during testimony yelled out, “whoa, whoa,” as Vieux and Spitz were arguing over an interview he conducted with him prior to the first trial. “When you ask a question you have to wait for an answer,” he told Vieux. He told Spitz to wait for questions to be asked before responding.

A crucial component of Spitz’s testimony was that besides the bruising he found on Sarah Widmer’s neck and head, he also discovered bruising on her inner arms where medics poked the IV needle in twice in one arm and once in the other. He cut the skin to reveal a four inch hemorrhage on the right arm and a seven inch bruise under the skin on the left arm.

“The bruising is extremely excessive because she drowned,” he said. “It is due to hemodilution and increased volume and blood pressure.”

Earlier in the trial, Warren County Coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove testified that a dead body can’t bruise and the bruises must have happened before she died. Sarah Widmer had no vital signs when first responders arrived and she never was revived.

Under questioning by the defense, Spitz, who has supervised and performed about 60,000 autopsies in his long career, recounted two of his cases where bodies showed bruising that occurred a day after the person died.

In cross examination, Vieux quizzed Spitz on why prior to the first trial he told prosecutors he had no opinion as to the manner of Sarah Widmer’s death. Spitz said he offered testimony in the first trial that he deemed it undeterminable, meaning neither he nor anyone else can say for sure what caused her drowning.

The defense also called Dr. David Smile a emergency medicine expert who works with Premiere Healthcare Services based in Dayton. He is also the medical director for the West Chester Twp. Fire Department.

Smile agreed with defense attorney Jay Clark that the intubation and other efforts made to save Sarah Widmer would have been difficult given the fact some of them were performed in a moving ambulance.

He said medics performing the Sellick maneuver, to ostensibly give intubators a clearer view of her airway, would have been using three to five pounds of pressure on her trachea. The idea he said is to press on the top ring of the trachea to collapse the esophagus so no stomach contents come up.

“If you push down of the bridge of your nose until it starts to hurt, it’s a fairly good amount of pressure,” he said. “It’s fairly firm pressure.”

Smile testified there are 300,000 cardiac deaths that occur every year that can’t be explained. He said one to two percent of those are people under the age of 35.

The prosecution will cross examine Smile Tuesday, May 25.


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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Mon May 24, 2010 11:39 pm

Sarah Widmer wasn't victim of bathtub murder, defense experts say
Repeated attempts at CPR likely caused bruises, injuries

By Janice Morse • jmorse@enquirer.com • May 24, 2010

LEBANON - There are innocent explanations for the injuries on drowning victim Sarah Widmer, expert witnesses testified Monday.

One witness agreed she could have fallen asleep in the tub, been startled awake, then suffered a rapid, irregular heartbeat that contributed to her death.

Testimony of the two witnesses – a world-renowned death investigator and a local emergency-room doctor – consumed all day Monday, the 11th day of the murder retrial of Ryan Widmer in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

He is accused of drowning his new wife, Sarah, in their Hamilton Township bathtub in 2008.

“This was a good day for the defense – and it should be,” said Cincinnati lawyer Mark Krumbein, who attended the proceedings Monday. “These are some of their star witnesses.”

Renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz of Michigan launched the technical, medical testimony of the defense team’s case as the Widmer retrial entered its third week.

Spitz also testified at last year’s trial for Widmer, 29, of Mason.

That trial lasted less than two weeks and ended in a guilty verdict that was thrown out because of jury misconduct. If convicted, Widmer faces 15 years to life in prison.

Spitz testified that diluted blood in drowning victims such as Sarah Widmer, 24, makes any bruising look far worse than it would otherwise – and that explains why tiny needle pricks in the crooks of her arms caused large bruises.

And in another significant point, a Dayton emergency room physician and medical director for West Chester’s paramedics, Dr. David Smile, said the injuries found on Sarah Widmer were “all compatible with CPR…resuscitation in general.”

“I actually would have expected more injuries,” Smile said, considering she underwent more than 45 minutes of chest compressions, at least two attempts to manipulate her throat, six attempts to insert a breathing tube in her windpipe and multiple attempts to insert needles.

Smile also described a number of syndromes that can be associated with seemingly healthy young people, even athletes, giving them an “electrically unstable heart” – and he said many people are walking around with these conditions without knowing it.

Further, the act of falling asleep in the bathtub, then being startled awake – or being startled by anything – could set off a rapid, irregular heartbeat that could turn fatal, Smile said.

Spitz couldn’t say whether or not Sarah Widmer could have had a sudden heart problem or a seizure, because tests that detect electrical activity problems in the heart and brain can be done only while people are alive, and his investigations are limited to the dead.

Spitz agreed that injuries on Sarah Widmer could have been caused by life-saving efforts.

Specifically, injuries to her neck and throat – which the county coroner blamed on blunt force or compression – actually appeared to emanate from needle punctures and blood thinned by the water she inhaled.

Spitz explained that, in drowning victims, the salty blood attracts non-salty water. As a result, the blood is diluted and is flowing at an increased volume with greater pressure through veins. At the same time, red blood cells are overfilled and burst, thus causing bruising to appear exaggerated.

“In a drowning victim, any injury is magnified,” said Spitz, a forensic pathologist who has decades of experience working on some of the nation’s most celebrated murder cases.

Assistant Prosecutor Travis Vieux repeatedly confronted Spitz with his own words, pages from an authoritative text he edited: "Medicolegal Investigation of Death."

Although Vieux got the doctor to agree with selected passages from the text, at one point the white-haired doctor in his 80s showed some chutzpah and accused Vieux: “You are misleading me.”

That was after Vieux read a passage from the book referencing multiple points of bleeding in the whites of a person’s eyes, stating that would be cause for suspicion -- not one such area, which was detected in Sarah Widmer.

Spitz said seeing one such sign in a victim and concluding that was evidence of foul play would be like seeing one bird flying in the air and concluding that summer therefore has arrived.

Spitz, who estimates he has performed upwards of 55,000 autopsies dating to the 1950s, testified to Congress about the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

More recently, he investigated the death of Colorado child beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsey and also was involved in the civil trial against ex-football star O.J. Simpson.

Spitz says he has done studies on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and drowning, and has done 14 articles on drowning alone. One of the articles addressed what types of wounds can be expected in drowning victims.

Spitz got involved in the Widmer case after Widmer’s first lawyer, Charlie Rittgers, sought his expertise.

At Rittgers’ request, Spitz conducted an autopsy on 24-year-old Sarah Widmer on Aug. 15, four days after her death. Spitz agrees she drowned.

He found “at least one, maybe two needle marks on the left side of her neck over the jugular vein,” as well as needle punctures in both arms. In all three areas, there was “extensive” bruising or bleeding under the skin, he said.

Spitz pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket, and with the help of two attorneys flanking him to hold its edges, demonstrated for the jury how a triangular-shaped flap of skin was pulled upward to reveal the inside of Sarah Widmer’s chest and throat areas.

Then he explained how that demonstration translated to a photograph done during an autopsy of Sarah Widmer.

“You see a vast hemorrhage that goes from the neck, down over the central portion of the chest, extending to the left and going beyond the horizontal line, down in the muscle,” Spitz said, “...and this is all one hemorrhage.”

“Is it a lot of hemorrhage? Of course it’s a lot…but there was a lot of CPR here," he said, referring to all the life-saving efforts that were employed.

Spitz also said there was a tear in Sarah Widmer’s liver that could have been associated with the CPR.

In his autopsy, the county coroner made no notation of a liver laceration.

Again Monday, as he did last year, Spitz testified that the cause of Sarah Widmer’s death was drowning – and the manner of death “undeterminable” – that no one would be capable of determining how she drowned. That opinion conflicts county coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove’s ruling that the manner of Sarah Widmer’s death was homicide.

Spitz also testified that if a person is described as "hot to touch," as Sarah Widmer was, that could be associated with a seizure in which a person’s muscles contract spastically and that can generate heat. He also said that 70 percent of people who die of a seizure have no sign in the brain; the same is true of many people who suffer a heart-rhythm disruption.

Defense lawyers are arguing that Sarah Widmer may have experienced a sudden medical problem that contributed to her drowning, and that injuries found on her body came from life-saving efforts.

Spitz said that it was possible that the symptoms other witnesses reported -- headaches, seeing spots, odd sleeping habits -- could be signs of an underlying medical problem or sleep disorder that went undiagnosed.

Prosecutors allege injuries found on Sarah Widmer’s body were indicators of a forced drowning, and that chances of a seemingly healthy young woman suffering a sudden medical problem were remote.

Because of a gag order, lawyers are forbidden from discussing the case, so it’s unclear why one of the three alternate jurors was gone from the jury box Monday.

The defense team appears to be close to wrapping up its case, based on available remaining witnesses.

At a minimum, Smile will be recalled to testify today under cross-examination by prosecutors, and the defense has yet to call at least one other key witness -- Dr. Chandler Phillips, a medical doctor who is an expert in human factors, the way humans and their environment interact.

Legal analysts are divided on whether they think Widmer will take the stand in his own defense. He did not testify during the last trial.


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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Mon May 24, 2010 11:45 pm

Follow the trial and posts:



Covered by Dateline:


Ryan Widmer's mother Jill talks about his decision to get an attorney after his wife, Sarah, died... Dateline NBC

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Estee on Tue May 25, 2010 10:22 am

I'll betcha the next time we hear about Dr. Spitz it will be in the Kathleen Salvio/Drew Peterson case...Mr. Brodsky has probably already contacted him...

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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Tue May 25, 2010 11:39 am

Sarah Widmer's health debated
Defense lawyers contend that other factors led to drowning

By Janice Morse • jmorse@enquirer.com • May 20, 2010

Because of her tendency to fall asleep at odd times, Sarah Widmer ended up with the nickname “Sleeper” on her name tag at a baby shower, according to testimony from a former co-worker.

LEBANON - Sarah Widmer suffered bouts of sleepiness, migraines and blurry vision in the months before her she drowned in her Hamilton Township bathtub, witnesses say. They also testified she suffered from a headache and stomachache hours before her death.

The testimony Thursday in the retrial of her husband, Ryan, was intended to support defense lawyers’ contention that Sarah, 24, may have suffered from an undiagnosed condition that contributed to her drowning in August 2008. Prosecutors allege the drowning was murder, and Widmer faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted. The trial enters its 10th day Friday and could last all next week.

Ryan Widmer met his wife-to-be around August 2006, family members have previously said.

Known then as Sarah Steward, she gushed, friends said.

“She thought he was ‘the one,’” testified Dana Parker-Kist of Alexandria. Parker-Kist and her husband, Christopher Kist, introduced the couple to each other, then served as attendants in their April 2008 wedding.

Before Sarah Widmer drowned four months later, Parker-Kist said her friend seemed very happy.

“She said she finally met the man of her dreams, pretty much,” Parker-Kist said.

Parker-Kist, however, expressed concerns about her friend’s health.

During 2006-07, the two women worked at a Fort Thomas dental practice, and “once every other week or so, she would have a migraine,” Parker-Kist said. Sometimes Sarah Widmer would report seeing spots and having blurred vision, too, Parker-Kist said.

When those symptoms struck, Parker-Kist recalled sometimes guiding Sarah Widmer to a small, darkened room at the office to lie down for a while.

Parker-Kist, who is now a registered nurse and was then undergoing nursing training, said she advised her friend to take Tylenol and to see a physician about the problem.

“At one point, she had a checkup,” Parker-Kist said, but she was not asked if she knew the results.

One medical record introduced during the trial said Sarah Widmer complained to her doctor that she was tired all the time and sleeping a lot during the day, but prosecutors associated the sleepiness with her grief over her father’s death in 2007.

However, Dr. Benjamin Messmer, a dentist working in the same office where Sarah Widmer was a dental hygienist, said her sleepiness remained unchanged during the two years he worked with her before her death. She was known to take naps before work and at lunch breaks, Messmer said.

He also testified that, at the office on the day she died, “I was aware that she did have a headache and some stomach issues.”

Kimberly Liles of Liberty Township, best friend of Ryan Widmer’s mother, Jill, backed that up. Liles testified that she received a text message from Sarah Widmer on the day she died: “She said her head hurt.”

Parker-Kist, who left the dental office after landing a nursing job in mid-2007, said her friend was known to fall asleep at unusual times. “She would often fall asleep before we even began (watching) movies,” Parker-Kist.

Partly because of that history, Sarah Widmer ended up with the nickname “Sleeper” on her name tag at a baby shower once, Parker-Kist said.

Parker-Kist was among the first seven witnesses whom defense lawyers called in rapid-fire succession to launch their case Thursday. Before prosecutors rested their case, they had called 21 witnesses.

Thursday’s defense witnesses were mostly laypeople who spoke in plain language – and they ended the day early, giving jurors a break from the long, drawn-out medical testimony that had dominated the trial thus far.

Besides discussing Sarah Widmer’s unusual bouts of sleepiness and headaches, defense witnesses also described Ryan Widmer as a kind, gentle, good-natured person, with no tendency toward flashes of anger and no issues with drinking to excess.

Liles, the Widmer family friend, described Ryan Widmer as “a very nice young man” and “a gentle soul.”

She also remembered meeting Ryan’s wife-to-be for the first time at Jill Widmer’s home. “She was a very sweet, loveable girl.”

She testified the couple acted “very loving” to each other.

Somewhat countering the testimony offered by Sarah Widmer’s mother, Ruth Ann Steward, hinting at financial disputes, Liles said that during a discussion about shopping Sarah and Ryan Widmer were both laughing about the fact that it seemed impossible to make a trip to Target without spending $100.

Defense witnesses also described the newlyweds’ relationship as happy and conflict-free. The couple had been married only four months at the time Sarah drowned. Sarah’s mother testified Wednesday that she was aware of a few spats.

Under prosecutors’ questioning, several of the witnesses acknowledged that they never witnessed Sarah Widmer suffering from seizures or chest pains – an apparent attempt to counter defense lawyers’ contentions that a medical condition could have played a role in the drowning.

Earlier in the day, defense lawyers attempted to get Judge Neal Bronson to dismiss the case, arguing that court rules do not allow a jury to make “an inference on an inference.”

Attorney Hal Arenstein said that the prosecution had basically indicated that because Ryan Widmer was the only other person in the home, he must have killed his wife.

“The state has failed to establish that there was a purposeful killing,” Arenstein said.

It’s common for defense lawyers to make such a motion at the conclusion of the prosecution’s case.

But judges are required to view the evidence in the most favorable light to the prosecution, so those motions usually fail, and Bronson denied the motion in this case.

The defense’s first witness, Hamilton Township firefighter/paramedic Max Roy Smith, testified about driving the ambulance that took Sarah Widmer to Bethesda Medical Center at Arrow Springs the night she died.

He testified about Ryan Widmer’s demeanor on the trip there: “He was very upset and crying the entire time to the hospital.”

He also indicated that it’s difficult to perform CPR and try to place breathing tubes in patients while inside a moving ambulance and that sometimes medics can lose their hand positioning during those procedures.

Defense lawyers are trying to establish that Sarah Widmer’s injuries may have happened during efforts to revive her.

Smith also testified that sometimes patients and their relatives give “off-the-wall information” or mix facts up in emergency situations because they are upset.

Defense lawyers, through their questioning of other witnesses, have implied that Ryan Widmer was so upset, he may have gotten facts mixed up in some of his statements on the night of Sarah Widmer’s death.

A nurse testified that she was certain Widmer had told her that he found his wife “face-up” in the bathtub, but other witnesses said he indicated she was “face-down.”

Prosecutors, through their questioning, have implied that the discrepancy is evidence that Widmer purposely changed his account.


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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Tue May 25, 2010 4:18 pm

The defense is likely to rest today. Below is an article from when Ryan was found guilty in his first trial April 2009. It's long, but interesting to read.

Prosecutor Says Ryan Widmer Had Motive To Kill
Hutzel: Widmer Visited 'Swingers' Web Site

POSTED: 4:47 pm EDT April 3, 2009
UPDATED: 6:57 pm EDT April 3, 2009

CINCINNATI -- Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel told News 5 Friday that she believed Ryan Widmer did have a motive to kill his wife, even though one was never presented during his trial.

Hutzel said Ryan Widmer frequented an adult porn Web site called "Adult Friend Finder," described as the world's largest site for swingers seeking anonymous sex.

Hutzel said she believed Ryan Widmer's wife, Sarah, found out about the Web site and that caused the two to have a big blow-out.

"Ryan was on that Web site a number of times, including the weekend before she died. That's contrary to claims of the defense that this was a happily married couple," said Hutzel.

The prosecution was prevented from introducing the theory about the Web site because it could not show that Sarah knew about the site.

Hutzel, who was not present for the trial, was in court for the verdict.

"I'm pleased with the jury's decision," she said Thursday night. "This was a very difficult case with a lot of expert testimony, but I think that justice has been served."

The Verdict

Ryan Widmer was found guilty Thursday night of murder in the death of his wife. He was acquitted of a more serious charge of aggravated murder.

When the first verdict was read -- not guilty of aggravated murder -- WLWT.com's Travis Gettys said Ryan Widmer exhaled, bent over at the waist and pressed his palms together near his thighs. When the second verdict was read -- guilty of murder -- Ryan Widmer hung his head and began to weep.

The reading of the verdict was followed by several emotional outbursts from spectators in the courtroom, Ryan Widmer's relatives among them.

Ryan Widmer's uncle was ordered taken into custody after slamming open the door while leaving the courtroom.

When the judge asked Ryan Widmer if he would like to make any statements, he said, "I loved my wife. I did not hurt her. I was never given a chance. The day after she passes away, they charge me with murder. I didn't even… If I had an answer, I would give the answer of what happened to her, but I can't. I was not in the bathroom with her." The judge recommended a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

Ryan Widmer was taken into custody after the reading of the verdict. Gettys said Widmer's face was red and he looked back at his mother when he was escorted out of the courtroom.

Family and friends of Ryan Widmer appeared in shock after the verdict.

After Ryan Widmer was taken away, his family quickly left the courtroom and did not speak to anyone. Some cried openly, other sat stunned outside the courtroom.

Sarah Widmer's family chose not to be in the courtroom for the reading of the verdict. Thursday night on WLWT.com's live blog, what appears to be a statement from Sarah's family was posted.

The statement read:

"Travis, wanted to let you know that the Steward Family isn't interested in talking to the media currently and that any others that make a comment do so without consent of the family and do not reflect our thoughts or feelings. The only comment we have this evening is no matter what happened tonight, none of this will bring back Sarah. Thank you for your unbiased representation of this nightmare."

The statement was signed Mike Steward, who is Sarah's brother.

The Jury

The jury received the case just before noon on Thursday and deliberated for more than 22 hours before reaching its verdict.

The prosecution argued that Ryan Widmer held his wife's head under water in the couple's bathtub until she drowned. The defense argued that Sarah Widmer fell asleep in the bathtub and that's how she drowned.

Raw Interview: Juror Ray Diss

Ray Diss was one of the jurors who found Ryan Widmer guilty. He spoke with News 5's Karin Johnson Friday.

Diss said that at the beginning of deliberations, jurors took a secret ballot and determined there were two categories of people, those who were leaning toward guilt and those who were undecided.

Diss said that he felt Widmer was guilty halfway through the second day of testimony, when sleep expert Dr. Aneesa Marie Das testified that it was extremely rare for anyone to fall asleep in the bathtub and drown. Diss said the other jurors also found her testimony convincing.

Diss said the jury also paid close attention to the call Ryan Widmer made to 911.

Diss said he believed Ryan Widmer faked giving his wife CPR. He also questioned the timeline and Ryan's behavior during the call.

"I don't think anybody felt they would have left their wife in that water, called 911 and said 'My wife's drowned. She fell asleep in the bathtub,' and left her in the water."

Diss said the jury felt it could only make one of two decisions -- find him guilty of murder or find him innocent.

"There was no motive … That's why we didn't go with aggravated murder. If we had more choices we might have considered them, but we had two choices," he said.

Diss said he believed Ryan Widmer loved his wife and that he might have felt differently if the defendant had taken the stand.

As for the verdict, Diss said all of the jurors were upset afterward.

"It tore my heart out to vote guilty," he said.


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Re: Ryan Widmer - Bathtub Murder Trial of Bride of 4 Months, Sarah Widmer

Post by Piper on Tue May 25, 2010 7:18 pm

Here's the 911 call...