Appeals court denies 2nd Widmer appeal

Appeals court denies 2nd Widmer appeal

MIDDLETOWN, OH (FOX19) - The Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals has denied a 2nd appeal filed by Ryan Widmer's attorneys to get him a fourth trial.

Widmer is serving 15 years to a life sentence for the drowning death of his wife, Sarah, in the bathtub of the couple's Hamilton Township home in August of 2008.

The appeal centered around the lead investigator in the case, Jeff Braley, who is accused of lying on his application for the Hamilton Township Police Department.

In the appeal, Widmer's attorney, Michele Berry, claims Braley was an "incompetent serial liar" who hand-picked evidence to support his belief that a homicide had occurred and only collected evidence that supported his "tunnel vision for homicide."

The Court of Appeals ruled that argument was "entirely too speculative."

The appeal also covered Widmer wanting DNA testing on Sarah Widmer's remains to determine if she had a genetic disorder, namely Long QT Syndrome. The Court of Appeals ruled, "Widmer has failed to show that, but for trial counsel's failure to seek actual DNA testing, the jury's consideration of this matter would have been different. Given the amount of evidence in favor of Widmer's guilt, as well as the evidence already before the jury regarding Long QT Syndrome, Widmer has failed to demonstrate that counsel's failure to seek DNA testing deprived him of a trial whose result is reliable."

Ryan Widmer's father Gary broke the news to his son over the phone Monday afternoon.

"Silence, stunned silence. I don't know that he was expecting to hear me talk about it today," Gary said. "I actually heard him tell a buddy next to him that it was bad news so, it was tough."

Gary told FOX19 they are holding out hope that they will have more support in higher courts.

"It was expected that we weren't going to get any approval out of this one because the first appeal was stronger than this one but you still have that hope that they're going to do the right thing, see the right thing, see it in our favor," he said.

Ryan's lawyer released the following statement to FOX19 on Monday:

"We strongly disagree with the court's analysis and decision, and we will continue to appeal, relentlessly, until we've reached justice for Ryan. We'll continue to seek genetic DNA testing and urge the courts to review the illegal seizure of the bathtub, and the overall unreliability of the state's investigation of Sarah's death."

Ryan's attorney says they will appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court within the next 45 days.

"We're satisfied that Mr. Widmer was given every opportunity to make us prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt and we did that," argued Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.

Fornshell went on to comment on the lengthy nature of the courts decision which was laid out over more than fifty pages.

"The court went ahead and gave them the opportunity to make every conceivable argument they could think of and they did," he said. "Therefore the court had to spend enough time to knock down, or to at least comment on, and subsequently they did knock down every one of the arguments that was made."

The fight is far from over, however, for the Widmer family.

"I could do the whole cliché 'If it was your own son or daughter, would you be doing the same thing?' Yes, I think everybody would. But the simple fact of the matter is he did not commit this crime," argued Gary Widmer.

"We'll respond to anything that's filed but from our perspective this matter is over," Fornshell said.

"By all means we'll get him out, whatever it takes," emphasized Ryan's father.

To read the full ruling from the Court of Appeals, click here.

The Court of Appeals denied another appeal in September of 2012 that centered around the bathtub. Widmer's attorney, Michele Berry, argued that authorities should not have seized the bathtub where Sarah Widmer drowned, and that one of the prosecution's witnesses during the third trial gave testimony on fingerprints and forearm smears on the bathtub that was based on junk science.

Widmer was convicted during his third trial in February of 2011. A conviction in his first trial was overturned due to juror misconduct. A second trial ended in a hung jury.

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