Witness testimonies give insight into Trimble case

Kristin Lindsey


  • 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.
  • If he is convicted of these charges, he could face the death penalty.

Jan. 21 started out as a typical evening, according to Elizabeth Trimble Bresley, who testified in the triple-murder trial of her son, James E. Trimble, 45, of Brimfield.

But later testimony from Detective James Carrozzi of the Portage County Sheriff’s Department, along with video of the crime scene, painted a different picture of that night and of Trimble’s relationship with his live-in girlfriend, Renee Bauer, 42, and her 7-year-old son, Dakota.

Video evidence

Video of the crime scene showed two bags packed with Renee and Dakota’s clothing, giving the impression that the mother and son were planning to go away for a few days. On the refrigerator, Carrozzi noticed a piece of notebook paper with a phone number scrawled on it. He traced the number to Safer Futures, a shelter and resource center for women and children seeking freedom from domestic violence.

Photographs and video footage showed the slain bodies after they had been moved by paramedics who needed to check Dakota’s vital signs.

He was still clutching Mr. Bear, his prized stuffed animal.

The mother’s side

In her testimony, Bresley said she made her daily call from her winter home in Florida to her son at 7:18 p.m. on Jan. 21. He sounded normal, she said, but their conversation was cut short by a ringing doorbell at 880 Sandy Lake Road. The pizza Trimble ordered had arrived.

Bresley said her son instructed Dakota to pay the delivery person and get back a dollar to put in his piggy bank. According to his mother’s testimony, Trimble then got off the phone so he could eat before the pizza got cold but was supposed to call her back when he finished.

“If we got interrupted in a conversation, I always asked him to call back,” Bresley said.

At 8:10 p.m., Bresley had not yet heard back from her son, so she said she decided to call him back and see how things were going.

“Not too well,” she said Trimble replied. “I shot Renee and Dakota.”

Bresley, who got choked up as she described her conversation with her son to Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci, said she was shocked and responded, “Oh my God, no!” before getting off the phone with Trimble. She added that her son’s voice had changed drastically since the first time she spoke to him.

“It was not my son’s voice,” she said. “It was like somebody from outer space.”

The brother’s testimony

Later in the afternoon, the jury heard testimony from Trimble’s older brother, Arthur Trimble, who has lived in Florida for the last six years.

Arthur Trimble said he received a call from his mother some time after 8 p.m. on Jan. 21. He said she was hysterical, saying something had happened at the house, and could he find out what happened.

Arthur Trimble called his brother’s cell phone. There was no answer.

He tried to call a second time, and someone picked up.

“Jim?” Arthur said he asked.

“Art?” James answered.

“What the hell’s going on up there?” Arthur said he asked his brother.

He then told James about the call he received from their mother.

“I killed the f—— b—-,” James said.

“You did what?” Arthur asked.

“Yep, she’s f—— dead,” James replied.

“Where’s the little boy?” Arthur asked.

“He’s dead, too,” James said.

According to Arthur Trimble’s testimony, he told his brother that whatever happened had happened, and he should stay where he was. James E. Trimble told his brother that his life was over and he wasn’t going to do that. Before hanging up, Arthur Trimble said James E. Trimble told him he was on Mogadore Road.

Next, Arthur Trimble said he called his mother to fill her in and then called his brother-in-law in Tallmadge to get the phone number for Brimfield Township Police. Some time after 9 p.m., Arthur Trimble said he called Brimfield Township Police and told them to send someone over to Sandy Lake Road to check on Renee.

Following instructions by his mother, Arthur Trimble also told police that James was manic-depressive and had not been taking his medication. Arthur Trimble later indicated he had no prior knowledge that James E. Trimble had any such condition but relayed the message at his mother’s request.

Other testimonies

Robin Bare, Renee Bauer’s older sister, was the first witness for the prosecution. She testified about her sister’s background and that Renee and Dakota Bauer lived with her and her husband, George, before moving to Sandy Lake Road.

The jury also heard testimonies by Darrell and Angela French, who introduced Renee Bauer to Trimble and lived two houses down from the couple. Both said that Trimble and Bauer had a great relationship at first, but things progressively worsened.

Jeff Murphy, who lived next door to Trimble, briefly testified about the gunshots he heard Jan. 21. According to his testimony, he and Trimble spoke on a “neighborly basis.”

After lunch, testimony was given by Amber Peterman, the Brimfield Township patrolwoman, who was first to arrive on the scene. She described the procedures she followed that night.

The day ended with Detective Carrozzi’s testimony and a 20-minute video surveillance of the crime scene. The trial will continue today with the defense’s cross-examination of Carrozzi.

Contact public affairs reporter Kristin Lindsey at [email protected].


  • 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.
  • Yesterday – Witnesses begin their testimonies