After ending the third full week of trial with a very rare twist Friday, the Warren County jury charged with deciding the fate of Ryan Widmer is set to continue its deliberations Tuesday morning.
The jury of 7 women and 5 men through the throngs of media, supporters of both Ryan Widmer and the prosecution and on-lookers for a loop, Friday, when it notified presiding Judge Neal Bronson that they had become "hopelessly deadlocked" without any prospect of reaching a verdict.
At around 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Judge Bronson brought the jury back into the courtroom to issue what is known as an "Allan Charge." An Allan Charge - or a "dynamite charge," as its known in the legal community - is an instruction by the court to a deadlocked jury reminding them of their importance to the case and sending them back into the jury room to try to break their deadlock. Dynamite charges are considered a last resort for a court to attempt to avoid a hung jury, which results in a finding of a mistrial.
The Widmer jury returned to deliberations and continued deliberating until 6:30 p.m. on Friday. To the surprise of many, the jury informed the court late Friday that it was willing to continue deliberations in the hopes that the deadlock could be broken and asked to return on Tuesday, allowing the Memorial Day weekend to serve as a cooling down period.
Widmer is charged with the 2008 murder of his wife, Sarah Widmer. Sarah drowned in the family bathtub and authorities accused Ryan of forcibly causing her death. However, several indisputable facts - the lack of motive and the lack of signs of a struggle, the biggest of those - have caused doubt in the minds of many observers. Nevertheless, in 2009, Widmer was convicted of murder. His conviction was set aside, however, as allegations of misconduct by several jurors was proven.
Widmer's fate is now in the hands of a jury for the second time.
Entering the weekend, the retrial jury had deliberated for 23 hours. The first Widmer jury reached their guilty verdict in 23 hours. While jury's in many parts of the country deliberate for much longer than 23 hours, in Warren County, this jury may likely have broken the local record for deliberation length.
Many are guessing at what might be going on in the closed jury deliberation room. Three scenarios are possible: the jury may be evenly divided (6-6 or 5-7), the jury could be heavily leaning toward conviction (11-1) or the jury may be heavily leaning toward acquittal (11-1).
The likelihood is that the Widmer jury is not evenly divided as the trial heads into its fourth week. A 6-6 division after 23 hours almost certainly would have caused the jury to report to Judge Bronson at the end of the day on Friday that there was no end in sight, as neither side would have looked optimistically at convincing 6 fellow jurors to change their minds. However, a jury consisting of 11 members in favor of acquittal, however, likely would see benefit in dedicating additional time to trying to reach a unanimous verdict. Its also safe to assume that the 1 or 2 holdouts left in the jury have shown signs of wavering.
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