Police action on night of killings questioned

Natalie Pillsbury

RAVENNA – After shooting three people Jan. 21, James E. Trimble told the Portage County Sheriff, “I just want to plead guilty” to avoid as much process and procedure as possible.

This statement was made in a recorded interview between Sheriff Duane Kaley and Trimble conducted Jan. 24 – the Monday after he killed his live-in girlfriend Renee Bauer, her 7-year-old son Dakota and Kent State student Sarah Positano.

The prosecution attempted to play the interview yesterday in the Portage County Common Pleas Courtroom during the trial of Trimble, a 45-year-old Brimfield resident who is charged with aggravated murder.

During his testimony, Kaley said Trimble requested to see him. Kaley met with him Monday, where Trimble signed off on his Miranda rights.

The taped interview was almost completely unintelligible. After several attempts to play the interview for the court, only a few phrases were clear. Judge John A. Enlow instructed that Kaley’s questioning be postponed until today so they can play the tape.

Yesterday, both sides questioned police officials on the specifics of their actions the night of the shootings.

Trial began with further questioning of Detective James Carrozzi of the Portage County Sheriff’s Department and questioning of Brimfield Police Chief David Blough.

The defense noted a discrepancy in the testimonies of Carrozzi and Blough. Both claimed they gave paramedics permission to confirm Renee Bauer, 42, and her 7-year-old son Dakota deceased at 880 Sandy Lake Rd.

The defense also questioned Blough’s timing in issuing a Delta Order, which authorizes the use of lethal force without permission by the SWAT team.

When asked what the criteria for issuing a Delta Order are, Blough said that the order is issued to “save and preserve lives.”

Public Defender Dennis D. Lager countered that the criteria as outlined by the SWAT team are to issue a Delta Order if a hostage is taken, if it appears the captor is armed and has an intent or potential to kill.

The Brimfield Police Station received a call from Positano at about 11:14 p.m., notifying Blough of the hostage situation. Trimble had stated that he would shoot Positano if he was shot at by police, Blough said.

Blough did not issue the Delta Order until 12:10 a.m. because the police and SWAT team were planning to negotiate.

The defense then turned its questioning to the issue of Positano’s time of death, which was determined to be 12:04 a.m.

The 911 tape recorded during the hostage situation has a gun shot being fired and Positano saying, “I’m shot,” at approximately 12:04 a.m. Lager said. Then phone contact was lost.

“It’s apparent when she expires,” Lager said. “It sounds like she’s gasping.”

Blough said there were concerns with Positano having asthma problems or being cold and that no gun shot was heard from the cell phone that a Brimfield police officer was speaking to Positano from at the time.

“I was not aware that Sarah Positano had been shot,” Blough said.

Blough ordered the SWAT team to enter Positano’s residence at 7:30 a.m.

The defense asked why it took nearly seven and a half hours after losing contact with Positano for the Blough to make the decision to enter the residence.

“I am not in command of Metro SWAT,” Blough said. “I did not have communication with the negotiator.”

Blough was the officer in charge, ordering the SWAT team to enter the residence.

According to recordings, Trimble told Positano that after two hours, which the police agreed to give him, he would kill himself and let her go.

At this point, Positano had already been shot.

After this agreement, Blough said entry was postponed to not further upset Trimble.

Lager said police and the SWAT team shot at Trimble while he was inside, and Trimble occasionally fired back during these two hours. It didn’t appear that the SWAT team and police were making an effort to remain calm during that time, Lager concluded.

The prosecution countered that after Positano’s death, it didn’t matter what happened. The safety of the officers was the most important concern.

The prosecution called John Saraya, special agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. They questioned Saraya about his education and experience testifying in homicide and felony cases, but after the defense questioning of his credibility as a ballistics and blood splatter expert, the judge postponed his testimony until today.

Contact public affairs reporter Natalie Pillsbury at [email protected].



ƒ-S James E. Trimble, 45, is charged with shooting 42-year-old Renee Bauer, her 7-year-old son Dakota, and 22-year-old Kent State student Sarah Positano. He is indicted on 17 counts, including three counts of aggravated murder.

ƒ-S If he is convicted of these charges, he could face the death penalty.



Jan. 21 – Neighbors hear gunshots at 880 Sandy Lake Road. Police find Dakota and Renee Bauer dead. After fleeing police while shooting at them for more than two hours, Trimble breaks into Sarah Positano’s Ranfield Road home and holds her hostage.

Jan. 22 – Just after midnight a gunshot is heard at Positano’s residence. Later that morning, Trimble is taken into custody.

Feb. 7 – Trimble is arraigned and pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.

July 12 – Originally scheduled trial date, which was postponed.

Sept. 19 – Jury selection begins.

Sept. 20 – Trimble retracts his not guilty by reason of insanity plea.

Sept. 29 – Jury selection is complete.

Sept. 30 – Attorneys present opening statements.

Monday – Witnesses begin their testimonies.