A matter of life or death

Ryan Loew

Jury to recommend Trimble’s sentence in trial’s second phase

Area law specialists and Kent State students can’t say for certain whether Trimble will receive a death sentence as his capital trial shifts into its sentencing phase.

According to Thomas Hensley, political science instructor, such a sentence is not unprecedented in Ohio.

Trimble was found guilty on all nine charges against him Tuesday afternoon in the Portage County Court of Common Pleas – a verdict that could mean the death penalty for the 45-year-old Brimfield native.

The jury found Trimble guilty of three counts of aggravated murder for the deaths of his live-in girlfriend Renee Bauer, her 7-year-old son Dakota Bauer and Kent State student Sarah Positano.

Other charges Trimble was convicted of included three counts of kidnapping, two counts of felonious assault and one count of burglary during the Jan. 21 shootout with police.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, the death penalty is a possibility because of specifications on two of the murders – the purposeful death of Dakota Bauer, who was under the age of 13, and Positano’s murder, which he committed after kidnapping her.

With such specifications on the case, the trial was initially broken into two parts: the trial phase and the sentencing phase, said J. Dean Carro, a professor at the University of Akron’s School of Law.

The sentencing phase of the trial will begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 2. The jury could recommend Trimble face the death penalty, life in prison without parole or life in prison with a chance of parole after 25 or 30 years.

Judge John A. Enlow predicted it would take about a week for all evidence to be presented before jurors start deliberating.

“Then that’s basically for the jury to weigh,” Hensley said.

If the jury makes a recommendation of the death penalty, the judge can still sentence Trimble to life in prison, Carro said. But if the jury recommends life, then Enlow cannot sentence Trimble to death.

Another high-profile Ohio murder case ended Tuesday with the execution of 48-year-old Youngstown native Willie Williams, Jr. According to The Associated Press, Williams was executed for the murder of four men.

Sentencing someone to death is by no means easy, Carro said.

“Put yourself in the juror’s position,” he said. “You’re deciding to put someone to death or give them life.”

Nor is it meant to be an easy process, as only of a handful of cases get to the death penalty, Hensley said.

“It’s unusual but certainly not unprecedented,” he said.

Nikki Hroncich, senior integrated arts major, said she thinks the jury will be affected by the high emotion tied to the case.

“In these types of cases, emotion does play a part,” she said. “Even the most logical person will sit there and think, ‘That could have been my family.'”

Contact public affairs reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].