County pays for Trimble

Portage County residents could pay approximately $100,000 for James E. Trimble’s nine-week trial. The county incurred the trial costs between jury selection, which began Sept. 19, and sentencing, which occurred Nov. 16.

Rhonda Yaw, office administrator for the Portage County prosecutor’s office, said the costs for her office alone exceed $20,000. In addition, the county auditor’s office estimated the trial cost the prosecutor’s office and the Court of Common Pleas $26,195.

Figures were not available for the Public Defender’s office, but it is one of the few county offices whose budget is subsidized by state and municipal funds.

The figures released by the prosecutor’s office and auditor’s office include the costs of case preparation, travel, supplies, expert witnesses and dummies to simulate the victims’ bodies. Transcripts are included in the costs, but costs for some final transcripts have not yet been calculated.

The $26,195 estimate released by the auditor’s office also does not include juror compensation or salaries for prosecutors, defense attorneys and the bailiff.

Jurors in Portage County are paid $15 per day. The 12 jurors and four alternates in the Trimble case were paid a combined total of $5,520 to spend 23 days in court. The county also paid for food and lodging to sequester the jury the night of Oct. 24, said Judge John A. Enlow’s judicial assistant Darlene Pepper. The one-night stay, dinner and breakfast for the jurors cost the county $2,614, Pepper said.

According to annual salaries provided by Auditor Janet Esposito’s office, approximate weekly salaries for the judge, bailiff and attorneys are:

ƒ-S Enlow: $2,167 per week (Portage County pays $269 per week. The rest of Enlow’s salary is paid by the state.)

ƒ-S Bailiff Robert Burns: $660 per week

ƒ-S Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci: $2,066 per week

ƒ-S Assistant Prosecutor Francis Ricciardi: $1,335 per week

ƒ-S Public Defender Dennis Lager: $1,402 per week

ƒ-S Public Defender John Laczko: $1,009 per week

In total, the salaries of the judge, bailiff, attorneys and jurors during the Trimble trial equal approximately $66,189 paid by the county.

Throughout the duration of the trial, retired Judge Joseph Kainrad assumed Enlow’s regular caseload, Pepper said. Both the county and the state were responsible for paying the judge. Portage County paid Kainrad $56 per day; he did not work five days a week. The remaining $374.40 per day was paid for with state funds, Pepper said.

If a department is unable to cover additional costs, a request must be sent to the Board of Commissioners requesting an increase in the department’s budget, said John Lehman, director of Portage County Budget and Financial Management.

Vigluicci and Lager have not made written requests for additional funds, but Enlow sent a letter to commissioners Feb. 8. In the letter, Enlow advised the commissioners the Court of Common Pleas may have additional expenses as a result of Trimble’s capital murder trial. He estimated the need for an additional $25,000 to $50,000 in the court’s budget. That original estimate included possible costs for expert witnesses, additional jury costs and possible costs for sequestering the jury.

Contact public affairs reporter Kristin Lindsey at [email protected].