Jury selection began yesterday for Trimble trial

Bethany Jones and Joey Simon

Jury selection began yesterday in the triple murder trial of James E. Trimble, 45, of Brimfield Township.

Trimble is accused of the Jan. 21 shootings of his girlfriend, Renee L. Bauer, 42, and her 7-year-old son, Dakota, and Kent State student Sarah A. Positano, 22.

Trimble, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, sat composed and motionless throughout the jury selection process.

At the start of jury selection, Judge John Enlow told potential jurors he expected a jury to be chosen by the end of the week. The Portage County Common Pleas Court drew a pool of 250 potential jurors.

The number of jurors will be narrowed down to 16, with 12 trial jurors and four alternates. Enlow hoped to get through 24 yesterday.

Tension between the prosecution and defense started to rise as it became apparent that jury selection would take longer than anticipated.

“At this rate we’re going to be here until about October,” said prosecutor Victor Vigluicci during a bench conference with Enlow and defense attorney Dennis Lager.

By noon, seven potential jurors had been interviewed. Enlow cut the usual hour lunch break short and prolonged proceedings an extra hour.

Six potential jurors were sent home yesterday because of the slow proceedings.

“There’s no reason to have them sit around,” Enlow said.

Potential jurors were brought into Enlow’s courtroom at about 9 a.m.

Enlow explained to jurors that Trimble was charged with an indictment of three counts of aggravated murder.

Potential jurors were referred to by number only and were individually interviewed by Lager and Vigluicci.

They were asked questions about how much, if any, pre-media coverage they have seen or heard about the case and their feelings on capital punishment.

The first person questioned was a retired employee of Kent State. He was involved with grief counseling of the gymnastic team after Positano’s death. Positano was the coach’s assistant for the gymnastic team. Due to the potential juror’s involvement in the grief process, he was dismissed.

The man known as juror No. 25 also was dismissed after he said his position on the death penalty would keep him from following the judge’s directions when deliberating.

“If he’s found guilty, he should pay the price,” he said.

A University of Akron student who said he lives close to where the shootings took place also was excused. He said the pre-trial publicity he was exposed to would make his decision biased

Another person questioned was a Kent State student. She said she was out of town during the shootings and knew nothing of the case. She found no correlation between the name Trimble and Kent State.

Enlow told potential jurors that he expects the trial to take between four and five weeks.

He also said seating would become limited once the trial begins and will not allow anyone to stand in the courtroom.

Contact public affairs reporters Joey Simon at [email protected] and Bethany Jones at [email protected].