Trimble trial jury selection lengthy, continues today

James E. Trimble, 45, of Brimfield Township, watches as the jury members who will decide his fate are chosen. Trimble is accused of the Jan. 21 triple homicide including Kent State student Sarah A. Positano.

Credit: Steve Schirra

In the second day of jury selection, questioning continued for potential jurors who will determine the fate of accused James E. Trimble.

Trimble is being accused of murdering his girlfriend, her 7-year-old son and a Kent State student on Jan. 21. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Judge John A. Enlow said he had originally hoped the trial would be completed within four weeks, but he now estimates a six-week time frame, due to a slow jury selection.

Yesterday’s proceedings were so lengthy, Enlow sent home four potential jurors and asked them to return today.

Many potential jurors appeared to take the process seriously, mentioning they felt it is their civic duty to listen to the facts of the case, hear the evidence and weigh the aggravated and mitigating circumstances.

Each person was put on the spot during the testimonies, asked how they felt about the death penalty and if they could sign their names to a verdict to end another life.

Prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys also inquired about each potential juror’s prior media consciousness of the charges.

Those who felt they could not separate their predisposition from the facts presented in court were excused.

Potential jurors who were not excluded were instructed to fill out a second questionnaire and asked to call the Portage County Common Pleas Court tomorrow after 4 p.m.

Trimble sat stoic as the day’s proceedings passed. His eyes flickered to each person speaking, but he never flinched at the sound of his name or description of the charges.

Spectator turnout was low, with fewer than 10 spectators – mainly media – in the viewing area. Three armed police officers, plus two non-uniformed officers, surrounded the room. An officer was within a few feet of Trimble at all times, including recesses and the lunch break.

Enlow, Portage County prosecutor Victor Vigluicci and defense attorney Dennis Lager questioned 15 people yesterday in an attempt to select 12 jurors and four alternates. While age range was diverse, the potential jury group consisted of mostly white males.

As one person stepped off the stand, another took the seat, but the process moved at a slow pace, causing tension about the overdrawn length of time for each potential juror.

Enlow excused the court for a recess, as he calculated how many more jurors could take the stand, figuring that each line of questioning would take half an hour per person.

Vigluicci pointed out the previous testimony took one hour, and many potential jurors were confused about terminology.

“I’m having trouble understanding what you’re trying to get me to say,” one of the potential jurors said during his questioning by the defense.

Many testified that this was the first circumstance they contemplated their viewpoints on capital punishment.

Proceedings continue today, with nine potential jurors being questioned in the morning and six more potential jurors in the afternoon.

Contact public affairs reporters Kristin Lindsey at [email protected] and Katie Phillips at [email protected].