Trimble defense wants family out of courtroom for sensitve testimony

Amanda Garrett

911 calls record Positano’s death, defense said

Lawyers for James E. Trimble have argued that family and friends of the victims be barred from the courtroom during graphic testimony.

Trimble is accused of killing three people including Kent State student Sarah Positano.

In a hearing in Portage County Common Pleas Court on Friday, Public Defender Dennis Lager asked Judge John Enlow to allow family and friends to view parts of the trial from a closed-circuit television in another room.

In particular, Lager wants family and friends barred from the courtroom during the playing of a call between Positano and a hostage negotiator. The conversation between Positano and the negotiator will cause “uncontrollable emotional outbursts” that will affect the opinion of the jury, Lager said.

“You’re going to hear Miss Positano shot, and you’re going to hear her die,” he said. “That will certainly provoke uncontrollable emotional outbursts.”

Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said there is no legal precedent for barring friends and family members from the courtroom. Vigluicci cited an Ohio Supreme Court ruling which allowed family and friends to be present during graphic evidence and testimony.

“They all wish to be present,” he said. “It is their absolute right to be in the courtroom at this time.”

Enlow is expected to rule this week on the motion, but his decision was not available at press time.

The defense would be allowed to have an independent expert do ballistics testing on firearms and bullet fragments found at Positano’s Ranfield Road home, Enlow ruled. The defense would like to determine whether several bullets found at the scene were fired by Trimble’s gun or by the Summit Metro SWAT Team, Lager said.

The defense will also be allowed to test a blood sample found on the T-shirt Trimble was wearing when he was arrested. The defense would like to test the sample to determine the amount of drugs and alcohol in Trimble’s system on the day of the murders.

Enlow also heard testimony from three law enforcement officers the defense would like to bar from the courtroom. The defense cross-examined Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent John Saraya, Brimfield Police Detective Christopher Adkins and Portage County Deputy Sheriff Trent Springer to determine their level of expertise in homicide investigations. In a motion filed July 15, the defense stated the three men should be barred from giving expert testimony because they do not have enough experience to give expert judgments on ballistics, blood spattering or body positioning.

Trimble, 45, is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 19 for the murder of his girlfriend Renee Bauer, 42; her 7-year-old-son Dakota; and Positano, 22.

Contact on-campus reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].