Widmer's defense team files motion for acquittal

Ryan Widmer
Ryan Widmer
Ryan and Sarah Widmer
Ryan and Sarah Widmer

LEBANON, OH (FOX19) - Ryan Widmer's defense attorneys have filed a motion for acquittal.

Widmer, 30, is serving a 15 years to life sentence for the murder of his wife, Sarah, who drowned in the bathtub of the couple's Hamilton Township home in August of 2008. He was found guilty last month after his third trial. A conviction in his first trial was overturned due to juror misconduct and a second trial ended in a hung jury.

"Even construing all the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, in this case there is insufficient evidence to prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt," the motion reads. "Given this lack of evidence, reasonable minds could not reach the conclusion reached by the jury. And no rational trier of fact would conclude the state proved all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt."

[Click here to read the entire motion (PDF)]

In the motion, defense attorneys mention several points they say were brought up as facts in the third trial. Among them:

  • From the time Ryan called 911, six minutes elapsed before the first rescuer arrived in the bathroom
  • The tub had been drained prior to Ryan removing Sarah from the tub, and Ryan did not know the 911 dispatcher would tell him to remove Sarah from the tub
  • There was no evidence of water splashed in or around the tub, and police did not locate evidence that the bathroom had been cleaned or dried
  • Paramedics attempted multiple intubation attempts on Sarah, and resuscitation attempts also included 45 minutes of CPR and multiple attempts to start an IV

In the motion, defense attorneys also point out that two of the state's witnesses, Warren County Coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove and Dr. Charles Jeffrey Lee, are not board certified forensic pathologists and neither are familiar with the nature and variety of injuries caused by resuscitative efforts. It's also pointed out that Drs. Uptegrove and Lee did not consider crime scene photos, testimony of first responders or talked to Sarah's family when determining her death was a homicide.

The motion also points out the opinion of defense witness Dr. Chandler Phillips, a biomedical engineer, that Sarah was not forcibly drowned, was not rebutted.

The motion also attacks the testimony of Jennifer Crew, who testified that Ryan confessed to her that he killed Sarah. The motion says Crew was not able to provide details on how Ryan allegedly killed Sarah, and she said Ryan punched Sarah in the chest, but none of the prosecution's witnesses were asked if Sarah had any injuries consistent with being punched in the chest.

"Based on the evidence, no rational trier of fact could find the essential elements of the crime were established beyond a reasonable doubt," the motion states. "Similarly, there is no way reasonable minds of reasonable people could reach the conclusion reached by this jury.

"Due process demands the Court grant the motion and order a judgment of acquittal."

Earlier this week, the defense team filed a motion for a new trial, alleging one of the jurors made a bias statement to a friend.

Prosecutors have until March 18 to respond to both motions. In a statement released today, Warren County Prosecutor David P. Fornshell said, "Our office is reviewing the motion and preparing a response.  Based upon what I have seen so far, our office is confident the Defense cannot meet the high legal standard required for the Court to set aside the guilty verdict and acquit Ryan Widmer."

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