Trimble’s drug usage remains questionable

RAVENNA – Whether James E. Trimble was under the influence of methamphetamines when he murdered his girlfriend Renee Bauer, her son Dakota and Kent State student Sarah Positano, remains questionable.

Defense counsel Dennis Lager and John Laczko continued to produce witnesses in the sentencing phase of the trial yesterday. Trimble could face life in prison with or without parole or death penalty.

The defense is trying to prove Trimble committed the murders without prior intent, which would make hus sentance less serious.

Clinical psychologist and addiction specialist Robert Smith testified about a psychological and chemical dependency evaluation of Trimble he conducted. Smith’s report determined whether Trimble met the criteria for insanity at the time of the murders on January 21 and 22.

Smith said Trimble suffers from bipolar disorder and manic-depressive disorder with states of hypermania. A person with this diagnosis is constantly in an agitated state. The person cannot organize themselves and often has mood swings with emotional highs and lows.

Chemically, Trimble suffers from alcohol dependence, methamphetamine dependence, cannabis dependence and opiate dependence in the form of Vicodin. When someone becomes dependent upon a drug, Smith said, it begins to change the chemical balance of a person.

Methamphetamines are commonly used in a crystal form that can be snorted, swallowed, smoked or injected. Some over-the-counter cold medications contain a form of the stimulant. Smith said a small amount has an effect on the body for up to 12 hours.

During his testimony, Smith said the combined effect of no sleep and being under the influence of methamphetamines induces a state known as “tweaking.” The additional effects of alcohol, Vicodin and prescription Ativan, mixed with the meth, causes a more impaired state.

“Individuals in this state can be very dangerous,” Smith said. “They see things and hear things that are not real. They think they have to defend themselves.”

Smith testified when the two diagnoses are combined, a person potentially becomes delusional and often experiences hallucinations and sometimes cannot control their violent actions.

“Bipolar disorder contributed to the commission (of the crime),” Smith. “It diminished his ability of performance to the requirements of the law.”

“He was not insane,” Smith added.

During the prosecution’s cross-examination, Assistant Portage County Prosecutor Francis Ricciardi questioned Trimble’s patient history, trying to reject or verify information. Specifically, Ricciardi reviewed Trimble’s relationship with his father, who allegedly abused him.

In the span of one hour, Defense Attorney Dennis Lager raised more than 15 objections Ricciardi’s questioning of Smith.

Smith’s report documents Trimble’s description of his father. After serving as a drill sergeant in the US Marine Corps for six years, Trimble’s father took a job working for Goodyear Aerospace.

Trimble said, his father was a heavy drinker and a harsh disciplinarian. Trimble reported he was abused with a belt or punched with fists. Trimble’s mother could not confirm all the details about the alcoholism of Trimble’s father.

Another witness called by the defense was Lauren Vinsick, lab manager at Omega Laboratories in Mogadore, Ohio. Vinsick testified she tested samples taken from Trimble’s head and underarm hair on April 15.

Vinsick based on tests on one inch of Trimble’s hair, his sample measured 12.2 nanograms of methamphetamines per 10 milligrams of hair. These tests could measure presence of the drug from as far back as two months, Vinsick said.

“There was some type of consistent use of methamphetamines,” Vinsick said.

In cross-examination, Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci questioned Omega Laboratories’ processes.

“This is not a federally-approved process. (Omega) is only licensed by the State of Ohio for urine testing,” Vigluicci said.

Vigluicci also questioned Vinsick about the presence of methamphetamines in Trimble during the murders.

“You don’t have any clue as to whether Mr. Trimble had methamphetamines in his system on Jan. 22?” Vigluicci asked.

“No, I do not,” Vinsick said.

Dr. Lee Blum, a toxicologist for the National Medical Services Lab, testified he was able to detect methamphetamines in Trimble’s T-shirt sample. Part of the sample included an apparent blood stain.

“We found a methamphetamine in each of the (samples) we tested,” Blum said. “It was a clear, distinctive amount.”

During cross examination, Vigluicci questioned whether the blood stains were actually real because no trace of iron was found. He also questioned when and how the shirt contained meth.

“Couldn’t the shirt have gotten meth on it from where it was stored, or who wore it, or if that person brushed up against somebody?” Vigluicci asked. “Couldn’t the meth have been an over-the-counter substance?”

The defense also presented emergency room physician Julie Ann Besco who treated Trimble at Robinson Memorial Hospital on June 25, 2004.

Besco said she treated Trimble for an “altered level of consciousness.” She also told both Laczko and Vigluicci Trimble had denied smoking or doing drugs at the time or in the past.

She also said Trimble’s girlfriend told her he had a history of bipolar disorder and had previously been prescribed Wellbutrin.

Besco also testified that while treating Trimble, he became increasingly agitated, making it difficult for her to administer a CAT Scan in order to rule out head trauma.

She said she eventually called the police and protective services and gave Trimble an anti-psychotic agent to decrease his agitation. “It didn’t seem to help,” she said.

Contact public affairs reporters Michael Lewis [email protected] and Audrey Wagstaff at [email protected].