LEBANON, Ohio - Convicted murderer Ryan Widmer will not have a fourth trial.
Warren County Common Pleas Judge Neal Bronson on Friday deniedRyan Widmer's attorney' request for a fourth trial or anacquittal.
A jury convicted Widmer, 30, on Feb. 15 in the 2008 drowningdeath of his wife, Sarah, and sentenced to 15 years to life. Widmer's defense filed a motion requesting a fourth trial,citing inappropriate juror behavior. They also argued there was notenough evidence for a conviction.
Attorneys will now begin the appeal process. The request for anew trial or an acquittal postponed the appeal from having to befiled.
"With the judge's order today what we, I guess the nextprocedural step is a notice of appeal gets filed, and that coversnot only his decision today, but the trial, and even the motion wefiled before the trial to find Ryan not guilty and issue ajudgement of acquittal," said defense Jay Clark.
The defense filed the motion for a new trial after they learnedthat Facebook may have been a platform for possible jurormisconduct. The defense was concerned that at least one juror hadbeen exposed to anti-Widmer pages on the social networkingwebsite.
There was also concern that juror Dreamma Epperson had talkedabout Widmer to a friend during the trial. The woman who calleddefense attorneys during the trial to report what she'd heardEpperson allegedly say testified in a hearing on Wednesday. On thestand she could not say with 100 percent certainty that she heardright.
Widmer was convicted by a jury in the first trial, but thatconviction was later thrown out due to juror misconduct. The secondtrial ended with a hung jury.
Judge Bronson wrote in his ruling on Friday that "Despitearguments of, essentially, 'the better experts' there was never achallenge to the expertise or opinions of either Drs. Uptegrove orLee or any other medical expert offered by the State. There wasexpert testimony offered that Sarah had suffered injuriesinconsistent with medical intervention and consistent withviolence. The jury could deduce from all the evidence, i.e. thewitnesses who physically attended to Sarah and those witnessingthose attending to Sarah, that the opinions of Drs. Uptegrove orLee better coincided with all the evidence than the opinions orother evidence opposed to them beyond a reasonable doubt. Thebottom line is that reasonable and rational jurors, when construingthe evidence in a light most favorable to the State could find thatthe State proved the elements of Murder beyond a reasonabledoubt.
Bronson went on to say "When a defendant elects to exercise hisConstitutional Right to a trial by a jury, he places into the handsof that jury the duty and the ability to assess the testimony ofeach witness and each exhibit in order to weigh them forcredibility and probative value and to determine where thecomposition of their findings of fact lead. In his motion, theDefendant is asking this court to go back and weigh the evidence.This is not something the court is permitted to do under the law ofOhio.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell released the followingstatement on Friday:
"Ohio law sets a very high standard for setting aside a jury’s verdict. As the decision shows, the Court was not convinced that the defense met that very high standard.”
Widmer remains at a prison in Orient near Columbus until he istransferred permanently to a state facility.