Widmer trial: Jurors watch excerpts of Dateline episode; hear - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Widmer trial: Jurors watch excerpts of Dateline episode; hear from friends and coworkers

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LEBANON, OH (FOX19) - The defense continued its case Wednesday, the 11th day of testimony in Ryan Widmer's third trial.

Widmer is accused of killing his wife, Sarah, in the bathtub of their Hamilton Township home in August of 2008.

Just before the lunch break, the defense showed excerpts from a September 18, 2009 Dateline episode that featured the Widmer case. In total, the excerpts only lasted a few moments.

It was because of that episode that Jennifer Crew first contacted Widmer through the freeryanwidmer.com website. Crew testified last week that Ryan admitted to her that he killed his wife.

However, the defense's point is that Crew learned what she testified about Ryan personal's life through the Dateline episode. The excerpts the defense showed included how Ryan and Sarah met on a blind date; how he lived with his mother and how he learned a ballroom dance for their wedding. The defense also played Ryan's statement after his conviction in his first trial. Crew testified that she knew Ryan's voice when she first talked to him on the phone because of hearing his voice on Dateline.

Prior to the clips being shown, jurors heard testimony from a first responder, Ryan's employer and friends of the couple.

First up on Wednesday morning was Max Smith, another first responder to the scene and the only one to testify for the defense. Smith drove the ambulance to the hospital the night of Sarah's death, with Ryan in the passenger seat. He said Ryan was visibly upset and crying during the entire ride.

Smith did not perform any of the medical treatments on Sarah, and when asked by prosecutors if the paramedics at the scene were disorganized or if he noticed anything wrong about the way Sarah was being given treatment, he said no.

Jurors then heard from Zachary Zoz, a friend of the Widmers who testified how Sarah fell asleep one night during an outing with a group of friends at Brazen head Irish Pub in Mason. He also said she would climb into a car and fall asleep during tailgating before Bengals game.

"We thought it was funny at that point, now it's not so funny," Zoz said.

During cross examination, he admitted he didn't know Sarah's work schedule or what time she got up in the morning or what time she went to bed.

Next up was Carol Manning, who works for human resources at the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, where Ryan was employed before Sarah's death.

She called Ryan a "model employee" and said she didn't notice Ryan acting odd the day Sarah died.

The defense also called Sharon Bonekemper, former director of the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau (she's now retired). She testified that she saw Ryan as an employee with "great potential" and that she never saw him get mad or angry, even when some of his coworkers teased him about learning the ballroom dance for the wedding.

However, during cross examination, she admitted that she didn't know Sarah very well.

The defense also called Amy Karabaic, a friend of Sarah's who she met at Raymond Walters College while they were studying to be dental hygienists.

Phone records indicate Amy called Sarah around 7:15 p.m. the night of Sarah's death, and they had a brief conversation. Karabaic testified that Sarah didn't complain about any marital problems during that phone conversation.

During cross examination, she said she never noticed Sarah pass out or have any problems handling the tools they used in dental school, and she never noticed Sarah falling asleep when they visited each other.

After a lunch break, the defense called Dr. Benjamin Messmer, who Sarah worked for as a dental hygienist. He testified about Sarah sleeping in her car before work and during lunch breaks and also testified about a medical history report that Sarah filled out when the office had installed new software. The report said she suffered from allergies, had a previous heart murmur, and bruises easily. However, prosecutors pointed out that the report had never been signed by Sarah and Messmer admitted it was not used as her official patient record at the office.

Jurors then called Dana Parker-Kist, Sarah's good friend and a co-worker. Parker-Kist and her husband, Chris, were the ones who set Ryan and Sarah up on a blind date. She says she's known Ryan since they were in college together in 2002, and met Sarah when she started working at the dental office in July 2006.

Parker-Kist testified that Sarah often complained of headaches and she knew of two occasions where Sarah had to go sit in a dark room to feel better. She also said Sarah was given the name "sleeper" during a baby shower game because of her odd sleeping habits.

Jurors then heard testimony from Patty Kroger, who also worked at the dental office. She also noted Sarah's odd sleeping habits and complaints of headaches and stomachaches and urged her to see a doctor. During cross examination, she admitted she didn't know that Sarah had gone to the doctor in June and didn't complain of stomachaches or headaches.

It was also noted in cross examination that Kroger was the only one of Sarah's coworkers to testify that Sarah didn't show any signs of sadness after her father died in 2007.

She was asked during cross examination if she ever told Dr. John Becker, another dentist that Sarah worker for, about Sarah complaining about rough sex after Ryan had been drinking. Kroger said she didn't recall saying that.

Last to testify on Wednesday was Chris Kist, a close friend of Ryan and Dana Parker-Kist's husband. He testified that he never saw Ryan have any anger issues.

Defense attorneys also tried to get him to dispute some of Jennifer Crew's testimony, and he testified that Ryan didn't listen to Motley Crue, and that there was no computer in his mom's basement. But he said in cross examination that there is a TV in the basement.

When asked during cross if he was at the Widmer home the night of Sarah's death, Kist replied, "I didn't have to be there to know that he didn't do it," which was immediately struck from the transcript.

The defense continues their case Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

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