Trimble trial may move from Portage County

Michelle Park

Attorney Dennis Lager has made his request that James Trimble’s trial for triple homicide be moved outside of Portage County.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Between Jan. 22 — the day three murders were discovered by police officers in Brimfield — and April 5, about 195 broadcast news stories have aired about triple-homicide suspect James Trimble and the murders for which he is accused, according to exhibits presented yesterday morning by Dennis Lager, Trimble’s attorney.

These news stories include about an hour and 35 minutes of on-air coverage, and both the number of news stories and the amount of on-air minutes exclude Channel 3’s coverage. The total may expand by about 70 stories when Lager receives official documentation from that news source, he said.

The numbers were part of the evidence Lager presented in a pretrial hearing in the Portage County Common Pleas Court to provide support for a change of venue in the case of Trimble.

A change of venue — if granted — would move Trimble’s trial from Portage County.

A decision about whether the trial will be moved will not be made before July 12, at which time the jury selection process is scheduled to begin. Judge John Enlow delayed ruling on the motion and later declined to comment on why he did so.

With the extensive media coverage the case has received, Lager said jurors from the area probably would come in with knowledge — if not “subconscious, subliminal” thoughts — about the case and Trimble.

“It’s going to be impossible for prospective jurors to come in without knowledge of this case,” he said. “There’s one easy way to correct all of this. Move it out of Portage County.”

In addition to pointing out the amount of on-air coverage of the three homicides, Lager called a witness, Bryan Thomas, the circulation director of the Record-Courier, to identify circulation numbers for that newspaper. The paper has had several front-page stories about the incident, Lager said, as has the Akron Beacon Journal, from which he is awaiting circulation numbers as well. The Daily Kent Stater was not mentioned during Lager’s presentation or in his filed motion.

Lager read summaries of news reports in presenting his exhibits. As he did so, several individuals in the courtroom sobbed. Several court officials said they did not know whether the individuals may have known one of the victims or Trimble. Calls to the court reporter and the Victim/Witness Assistance Division were not immediately returned.

One thing that might prevent a change of venue in Trimble’s case is money, Lager said. Enlow declined to clarify Lager’s statement, reasoning that he cannot discuss specific court proceedings.

Here in Portage County, however, Enlow has requested between $25,000 and $50,000 for Trimble’s trial, according to John Lehman of the Department of Budget and Financial Management that reports to the county commissioners.

Neither Lager nor Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci commented on the hearing. A gag order prohibits them from doing so.

Trimble is accused of murdering Brimfield resident Renée Bauer, her son Dakota and Kent State student Sarah Positano on Jan. 21. His case is a capital case, and it is scheduled to go to a trial by jury July 12. The next pretrial in the case is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. May 9.

Contact public affairs reporter Michelle Park at [email protected].