Lead investigator testifies in Widmer retrial

Ryan Widmer
Ryan Widmer
Lt. Jeff Braley
Lt. Jeff Braley

LEBANON, OH (FOX19) - The lead investigator in the Ryan Widmer case took the stand Tuesday morning.

Lt. Jeff Braley with Hamilton Township Police led an investigation to try and determine what happened to Sarah Widmer, the 24-year-old woman who died in a bathtub in August of 2008.

Sarah's husband, Ryan Widmer, is on trial again for her murder. He was convicted last year, but is facing a new trial because of juror misconduct.

Braley was called out to the Widmer home then night Sarah died and was also present at the autopsy where Sarah's death was ruled a homicide by forcible drowning.

However, hospital records say the cause of death was cardiac arrest. So far in this trial, there have now been at least three possible causes of death other than the state's claim that Ryan drowned his wife Sarah.

Defense attorney Jay Clark spent some time talking with Braley about his training.  Issues on conducting an investigation, questioning witnesses and suspects, preserving a crime scene were all discussed.

A crime scene log of who comes and goes with times was extremely sloppy and the home was sealed off after investigators left the Sarah died. In fact, Ryan Widmer's mother was in the home just a couple hours after police left. She was looking for Ryan's dog and ended up removing jewelry from the bathroom.

Braley's experience was also called into question. After graduating the academy, he was promoted during the first six months, skipping the rank of sergeant making the grade of Lieutenant.

He joined the force in 2003, and Sarah Widmer was found dead in 2008, and this was the first homicide for the Hamilton Township police in 10 years. So with only five years on the job, Braley was in charge of his first homicide investigation and the department's first in 10 years.

During the investigation Braley found no motive for Ryan to kill his wife. There was no evidence of anyone having a boyfriend or girlfriend on the side, no money trouble, no life insurance, no drugs, no gambling, no anger or marital issues.

The coroner is expected to take the stand Tuesday afternoon. The prosecution only has a couple of witnesses left to present their case before the defense begins.

FOX19's Brad Underwood is in the courtroom and will provide updates throughout the trial.

Copyright 2010 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.