Defense tries to discount special agent’s testimony

Jessica Rothschuh

RAVENNA – Special Agent John Saraya testified Friday he was not aware of one of three bullets SWAT team snipers fired into the Ranfield Road home of victim Sarah Positano.

Public Defender Dennis Lager cross-examined the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation agent during the fifth day of testimony in the capital murder trial of James E. Trimble at the Portage County Court of Common Pleas.

Trimble, 45, could face a death sentence if convicted of aggravated murder for the Jan. 21 and 22 shootings of 42-year-old Renee Bauer, her 7-year-old son, Dakota, and 22-year-old Kent State student Sarah Positano, whom he held hostage in her home. He is indicted on 14 felony counts and three counts of aggravated murder.

Lager tried to show jurors Saraya did a poor investigation of the crime scenes at 880 Sandy Lake Road and at Positano’s 3729B Ranfield Road residence, both in Brimfield.

Lager attempted to demonstrate that Saraya:

  • Failed to discover at least one bullet hole at Positano’s home.
  • Did not use all means available to retrieve four .308 caliber bullets still lodged in various places in Positano’s home.
  • Failed to take samples of important forensic evidence, such as alleged blood spatters, clumps of hair and a piece of wood, in a bathroom and bedroom at the Sandy Lake location.

Saraya testified he had tried to retrieve bullets at the Sandy Lake location by inspecting basement rafters, pulling up carpet, searching outside in snow and using a small saw to cut around fragments lodged in a bedroom baseboard. However, Saraya said he missed a bullet hole at Positano’s residence during his inspection of the home in January.

Saraya told jurors he probed the bullet holes at the Ranfield Road address but did not use a saw or ladder to try to remove them because the tools were not available at the scene.

The defense will try to prove Trimble shot Positano accidentally while lowering a 9-mm pistol when he reacted to an officer entering the apartment by raising an AR-15 assault rifle he held in his right hand.

Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci called Saraya to testify to discount the defense’s claim that the shooting of Positano was accidental.

The jury also saw items found underneath Positano’s body, such as Trimble’s cell phone and a bottle of the tranquilizer Lorazepam, prescribed to Trimble.

Trimble’s lip quivered and he swallowed hard when the defense showed graphic photos of the three victims.

There is no trial today in observation of Columbus Day. Witness testimony will continue at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.

Public affairs reporter Josh Echt contributed to this report. Contact public affairs reporter Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected] and Josh Echt at [email protected].