After the presentation of three weeks worth of evidence in the triple-murder trial of James E. Trimble, 45, of Brimfield, jurors today will continue deliberations, which began yesterday and will continue until jurors make a decision.
Trimble is charged on a nine-count indictment that includes three counts of aggravated murder, three counts of kidnapping, two counts of felonious assault and one count of aggravated burglary.
Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci and Public Defender Dennis Lager were given an hour and fifteen minutes yesterday to present closing arguments to the jury.
Vigluicci began by recapping the death of Trimble’s then-girlfriend, Renee Bauer, 42, and her son Dakota, 7.
“Renee did make one fatal mistake in her life and you know what that is now. She took up with a cold-blooded killer,” he said.
Vigluicci told jurors there was not a physical altercation between Trimble and Bauer the night of her murder. He said the home Trimble and Bauer shared at 880 Sandy Lake Road was in perfect order, like Bauer always kept it.
He argued that the state proved count 13, which instructs jurors to consider the purposeful killing of Renee with prior calculation and design, beyond a reasonable doubt. If found guilty on this count, Trimble could receive the death penalty.
Vigluicci told jurors Trimble had to unlock a safe, select a weapon, unlock an ammunition cabinet, put bullets in the magazine of the AR-15 automatic rifle, insert it into the rifle, chamber the first round and unleash the safety.
“This was his planning and his preparation to kill Renee and Dakota,” Vigluicci said. “I think loading and shooting and pointing an assault rifle at someone 14 times is purposeful.”
Lager said the state did not prove its case because they never determined where the weapon was located and if it was loaded. What a person has to do to fire a weapon does not indicate prior calculation and design, he said.
Lager said a clump of hair caught on the track of the bathroom door supports that Trimble and Bauer had a domestic dispute directly before he shot her. He said Bauer kept her home spotless and would never have allowed a clump of hair to remain.
To support the evidence of a domestic dispute, Lager said the first shot to hit Bauer killed her; however, Trimble fired 12 additional times.
“That indicates uncontrollable rage,” he said.
The prosecution and defense also took turns debating if the shooting of Dakota was intentional.
Vigluicci told jurors that if a person is accidentally killed during the purposeful killing of another, the person is still guilty of purposeful killing under Ohio law.
“The defense will have you believe he didn’t mean to shoot Dakota – he got in the way. He’s collateral damage,” Vigluicci said. “He (Trimble) chose the weapon that would shoot high velocity bullets.”
Lager said there was no prior calculation and design for the shooting of Dakota, and Trimble should be charged with criminal recklessness.
The prosecution also argued that Trimble purposely and intentionally kidnapped and killed 22-year-old Kent State student Sarah Positano.
Lager said Trimble accidentally shot Positano when a “phantom sniper” startled him by entering Positano’s home.
“A hostage is only good while a hostage is alive,” he said. “How was he going to execute his plan? There was nowhere to go.
“It was criminal recklessness, but it wasn’t criminal purposefulness.”
Vigluicci said Positano’s house was perfect for Trimble to enter because it was isolated, surrounded by open fields and had no outside lights.
“His plan required time, and that’s what he got,” he said.
The prosecution and defense debated the 911 tape of Positano. Lager said an unidentified voice is heard on the tape. He said it is evidence of the “phantom sniper” that entered Positano’s home, contrary to what Brimfield police and Metro SWAT members testified. He said this evidence matches the testimony that Trimble gave to police.
Vigluicci said no one was in Positano’s home, except her and Trimble.
Contact public affairs reporter Bethany Jones at [email protected]