LEBANON, Ohio - The mystery witness in Ryan Widmer's third trial was identified during opening statements on Wednesday.
Defense attorney Lindsey Gutierrez told the jury the witness' name is Jennifer Crew, an ex-manager of a gentleman's club. Court records show Crew is approximately 35 years old and lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Gutierrez said Crew is going to testify that Ryan, "confessed to her in an hour-long phone call that he killed Sarah because Sarah was going to leave him." Gutierrez said there is no record of the call on Crew's phone because the call doesn't exist.
Judge Neal Bronson denied the defense's request to exclude Crew from testifying in the trial and issued a written decision Wednesday. Defense attorneys said Crew contacted Widmer through the FreeRyanWidmer.com website after seeing his story during a Dateline episode in 2009. They exchanged e-mails and regular phone calls for several months but Widmer cut off the contact in December 2009. They never met in person. Assistant Prosecutor Travis Vieux said, "What this woman will tell you is he called her one evening when he appeared to be intoxicated at that time he admitted that he had killed his wife."
"What she can not tell us is when that phone call occurred or what phone number the call came from because Ryan always called her from his own cell phone. This phone call in the middle of the night came to her cell phone from a blocked number," said Gutierrez. "During the period of time when they spoke, Jennifer Crew did not receive one single phone call that lasted an hour long. The call simply does not exist," she said.
Widmer is accused of killing his wife Sarah, in their Hamilton Township home in August 2008.
Talk about the mystery witness took up only a small portion of the opening statements.
Vieux told the jurors they will see evidence of bruises that indicate murder. He said Widmer's story was inconsistent to emergency workers, Sarah's body was too dry to have been in the bathtub and her fingers were not pruned from the water.
"This is the advice I offer you. Accept the reasonable, reject the unreasonable and use your common sense," said Vieux.
The defense told the jurors there were no signs of a struggle.
"We do not know what happened to Sarah after she got in the bath that night," said Gutierrez. "Ryan doesn't know. The police don't know. The prosecutors don't know and at the end of this case you will not know either."
"It may be hard to accept but sometimes young people who appear healthy die unexpectedly," said Gutierrez.
Court records also show Crew is in a methadone clinic for her addiction to drugs and she has theft convictions from 1992.
Her counselor from the clinic will reportedly testify that she exaggerates stories and "gets too involved with things," said Gutierrez. According to Gutierrez, the counselor didn't even take notes when Crew told her about the confession because it didn't seem reliable.
Widmer was convicted of killing his wife in his first trial, but the verdict was thrown out because of juror misconduct. The second trial ended in a hung jury.
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