Trimble trembles

Grace Dobush

Recording of confession, crime scene photos seem to affect triple-homicide suspect

RAVENNA – James E. Trimble looked visibly shaken yesterday as he, along with jurors, heard the recording of his confession and saw photos of the bodies of Renee and Dakota Bauer.

In previous days of the trial, Trimble sat emotionless, staring straight ahead or looking at the table. Yesterday, Trimble appeared to be on the verge of tears at the Portage County Common Pleas Court, where he is being tried for the aggravated murders of Renee and Dakota Bauer – his girlfriend and her 7-year-old son – and Kent State student Sarah Positano.

Trimble told Portage County Sheriff Duane Kaley he wanted to plead guilty the Monday after the shootings last January.

All I can do is make it as easy as possible for the people I hurt.”

The recording was muffled, and jury members were given a transcript of the interview to follow. The tape went on for about 90 minutes.

Prosecutors mostly let the recording speak for itself and didn’t ask many questions of Kaley.

Kaley read Trimble his Miranda rights at the beginning of the recording and asked him a number of times if he understood them. Trimble, on the tape, told Kaley he used a 9mm Sig pistol and an AR-15 automatic weapon, which had been in his gun safe. Trimble said he was the only one who had the combination.

Trimble refused to talk about what happened at his Sandy Lake home but told Kaley the last thing he remembered.

“Me and Dakota were going to shoot his BB gun in the basement,” Trimble said. “I made crow targets. We never got to do it.”

Toward the end of the interrogation, Kaley began asking personal questions. Kaley asked him what they got Dakota for Christmas.

“All kinds of stuff,” Trimble said.

As this exchange was recounted in the courtroom, Trimble’s chin visibly trembled.

On the stand, Kaley said Trimble seemed to have a selective memory, and told Victor Vigluicci, Portage County Prosecutor, that Trimble seemed “flat” in demeanor during the interrogation. Kaley also said Trimble told him he used speed sometimes. Speed is a drug term generally referring to stimulants such as methamphetamine.

Public Defender Dennis D. Lager challenged the allegation of selective memory and also asked if Kaley did any tests to determine whether Trimble was under the influence of drugs during the interrogation. Kaley said he had not and also said he did not know the “outward manifestations” of methamphetamine use.

Later, Vigluicci displayed more than a dozen photos of the crime scene, provided by Special Agent John Saraya of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, including some showing the bodies of Renee and Dakota Bauer. Fragments of bone and bits of hair could be seen on the dresser next to their bodies and on the shower curtain in the nearby bathroom. Trimble’s face became red as he began to look as if he were about to cry.

When Kaley asked Trimble on the tape who he was admitting to killing, Trimble said, “I guess Renee and Dakota,” and identified Positano as “the girl.”

Many of Trimble’s answers to Kaley’s questions about specifics were simply, “I don’t know.” When Kaley asked Trimble if he was convinced he killed them, Trimble replied, “I must have. No one else was there.”

The defense tried to point out the uncertainty in Trimble’s statements.

When Trimble said he was sure the weapon was in the gun safe, that he kept them all in the gun safe, Lager said, “That’s a presumption, isn’t it? He didn’t say, ‘It was there. I took it from there.'”

Lager said Trimble’s answers on the tape generally boiled down to, “I must have; I accept doing it, but I don’t remember.”

Lager made the argument that Kaley was an experienced law enforcement officer with knowledge of interrogation tactics and was asking Trimble questions he didn’t want to answer.

Trimble came to Kaley saying he wanted to plead guilty, and “The first thing you’re asking him to do is help you by telling you the facts about what happened,” Lager said.

Lager asked Kaley if he was looking for a confession.

“I hoped to obtain the truth,” Kaley said, but later agreed that he was looking for a confession.

Lager went through the entire transcript, asking Kaley to confirm what was in it.

Kaley’s most frequent answer to Lager’s questions was, “That’s his statement.”

About a dozen people who seemed to be friends and family of the victims stayed in the courtroom through the end of the day. As the

session came to a close, Trimble, still upset, quickly exited, as the observers turned to watch him.

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



ƒ-SJames E. Trimble, 45, is charged with killing 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-SIf 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.

Oct. 3 – Witnesses begin their testimonies.

Oct. 5 – Trimble interview with Sheriff Kaley was played for the court.