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Widmer trial Day 3: the jury tours the Widmer home and hears testimony from first witnesses


Warren County Sheriff's deputies accompanied the Widmer jury to the former home of Ryan and Sarah Wednesday.  (C. Enquirer/Cara Owsley) 

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The first official act of the newly seated jury in the retrial of Ryan Widmer was to visit and tour the former home of Ryan and his wife Sarah, who drowned there two years ago.

The jury, guarded by Warren County Sheriff deputies, appeared first thing Wednesday morning at the Hamilton Township home before returning to the Judge Neal Bronson's courtroom where the first testimony was heard.

A defense request to have the home toured was granted prior to trial, though the jury was instructed that anything they observed at the home was not evidence. Instead, the tour was meant to assist jurors in picturing the layout of the home during later testimony.

After the tour, opening statements were given by both the state and defense, then the trial began in earnest.

Widmer is being retried for the murder of his wife, Sarah, in 2008. Last year, Widmer was found not guilty of aggravated murder charges but was convicted of murder. The mandatory sentence, 15 years to life in prison, was immediately imposed.

However, over the next several days, allegations from defense attorneys surfaced that jurors had conducted improper experiments (air drying after showers in an attempt to recreate the scene of Sarah Widmer's death). Those allegations were presented to Judge Bronson, who subsequently overturned the murder conviction and ordered a new trial be held.

That retrial, which began with jury selection on Monday, is expected to last the next three weeks.

Two witnesses testified on Wednesday, the third day of trial: Don Sebastianelli, Warren County telecommunications department and Deputy Steve Bishop, Warren County Sheriff's Office.

Sebastianelli testified about the 911 calls made by Widmer the night his wife drowned.

Deputy Bishop was the first emergency responder to the scene. He testified that Sarah Widmer was nonresponsive when he arrived at the scene. He attempted CPR on her until paramedics arrived. Bishop testified that he was suspicious about what he observed, as Ryan was dry, the bathroom floor was dry, all of Sarah (except her hair) wasn't overly wet and most of the bathtub was dry, despite Ryan's assertions that his wife had just drowned in the bathtub after falling asleep.

Bishop's testimony insinuated that Widmer may not have called 911 immediately after removing his wife from the tub and may have instead cleaned up the scene prior to the arrival of police and EMTs. However, Bishop also testified that Sarah's body was warm when he arrived, suggesting that she had in fact just recently been in a warm bath.

Trial continues Thursday with expected testimony from a sleep expert and several EMTs.

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Follow Joshua on Twitter and subscribe at the top of this page to stay up to date on the latest Ohio and Cincinnati news. Joshua is also the Hamilton County 2010 Elections Examiner and Cincinnati Political Buzz Examiner.



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