‘Trimble told me he knew he was guilty’

RAVENNA – Although James E. Trimble doesn’t remember shooting Renee and Dakota Bauer, he said he knew what he did was wrong, according to Columbus-based psychologist Jeffrey Smalldon.

Smalldon, along with psychologist Robert Smith and motivational speaker David Parnell, testified Friday in the sentencing phase of the Trimble trial at the Portage County courthouse.

The trial continues today at 8:30 a.m. with direct examination of Smalldon.

Juror No. 11 was dismissed from service Friday because she was sick. Enlow had noticed she had a cold and was experiencing some discomfort, and she said Friday she felt nauseous. The first alternate took Juror No. 11’s seat.

Trimble, 45, who was found guilty on three counts of aggravated murder for the deaths of live-in girlfriend Renee Bauer, her 7-year-old son, Dakota, and Kent State student Sarah Positano, showed little emotion as defense attorney Dennis Lager directly examined Smalldon.

Smalldon said Trimble was able to recall events leading up to the Bauer murders, as well as patches of memories of his time in the woods, but not the actual murders.

“Trimble told me he knew he was guilty and admitted it,” Smalldon said. “But he does not remember killing Renee and Dakota.”

Trimble had a “consistent nonrecollection” of the murder events, Smalldon said. However, Trimble did not deny responsibility of the deaths.

“He said, ‘I knew I wasn’t insane,'” Smalldon said.

Trimble also told Smalldon his methamphetamine use was not an excuse for killing his victims. Smalldon said the methamphetamines contributed to his memory loss. Even though Trimble does not remember killing them, Smalldon said, he said he knew he committed the crimes.

Smalldon, who interviewed Trimble in June, July and September, also said Trimble’s family life was rough. He said Trimble felt he could never live up to his father’s expectations and criticism, although his mother was a hard-working person who tried to shield him from his father.

“Trimble worked hard and appreciated his mother’s hard work,” Smalldon said.

Former addict testifies

The defense also examined Parnell to glean information about the classification of drugs Trimble used frequently.

Parnell, a former methamphetamine addict, talked about the dangers and effects of methamphetamines on the body. Parnell said his addiction led him to a suicide attempt in 2003.

“It is one of the most addictive drugs known to mankind,” Parnell said. He said methamphetamines affect the central nervous system and can be smoked, snorted or injected into one’s body.

The drug’s high, known as “tweaking,” lasted from three to 15 days, he said. A veteran methamphetamine user, he said, could achieve “tweaking” within four hours.

He said methamphetamines also induce sleep deprivation. After building up a tolerance, he said, he was able to stay awake for eight to 10 days straight. “I was psychotic by the end,” Parnell said. “I felt my life was in danger.”

In 2003, Parnell stuck an SKS rifle under his chin and pulled the trigger. Although he survived, he said, doctors had to perform 18 operations to repair his face.

Drug use examined

The questioning of Smith, which began Thursday, continued for all of Friday morning and part of the afternoon.

Addiction is a craving brought on by a chemical change in the brain, Smith said.

When asked if Trimble was addicted to drugs, Smith said, “I believe he is addicted. He would have great difficulty controlling his use.”

Smith said Trimble said he began using alcohol and marijuana at 13 and used them regularly by his late teens, introducing methamphetamines and other drugs later. Smith said Trimble was discharged from the Air Force for his marijuana use.

Portage County’s chief criminal prosecutor, Francis Ricciardi said Trimble never called his father abusive and that Smith made “his father sound worse than he was.”

Smith said he made the clinical judgment that Trimble’s father was abusive from what Trimble told him about his father hitting him with a belt and his fists.

Ricciardi went through the list of documents Smith had been given by the defense and noted that it included a transcript of an episode of the “Oprah Winfrey Show”.

“Before you came in here today did you consult with Dr. Phil?” Ricciardi asked. Smith said he hadn’t.

In the redirect, Lager clarified that the topic of the episode was methamphetamines.

Smith said many addicts seek work with flexible hours or become self-employed to accommodate their addictions. Trimble followed a typical binge pattern of taking drugs every eight to 10 hours for a few days until the fatigue became too great. He would not sleep while taking the drugs but after the binge, would sleep for a few days to recover.

Smith said the combination of bipolar disorder and methamphetamine use “makes it much worse.”

Contact public affairs reporter Grace Dobush at [email protected]. Contact public affairs reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].