Judge sets bail at $3M in murder case; accused faces possible death penalty

Sean Joseph


Credit: Beth Rankin

Three television monitors broadcast an accused killer’s face in court for the first time during his arraignment at Portage County Municipal Court.

James Trimble, who is charged with the deaths of three residents, slumped in his chair while being arraigned over live video feed from the Portage County Jail yesterday afternoon. He has been charged with the murders of Kent State senior Sarah Positano and Brimfield Township residents Ren‚e and Dakota Bauer.

Portage County Prosecutor Vic Vigluicci asked Judge Barbara Watson to set Trimble’s bail at $1 million.

Instead, Watson set it at $3 million in cash — $1 million for each murder, she said.

Watson also set a preliminary hearing for Friday at the Portage County Courthouse in Ravenna. Trimble will be represented by public defense attorney Dennis Lager and could face the death penalty, Vigluicci said.

Vigluicci has seen sufficient information about the murders in the news and did not want to release any more information.

“I do not want to taint the jury pool in any way with pre-trial publicity,” Vigluicci said. “I very much want this case to stay here and be tried here. Therefore, it is my intention not to release any further details about the crime itself. We want a fair and impartial jury here in Portage County.”

Vigluicci wanted to make sure people knew that the series of events in Brimfield Township, which also includes the December murder of Charles Yeary, are not connected in any way. Steven Johnson pleaded guilty to Yeary’s murder yesterday morning and was sentenced to 15-years-to-life, Vigluicci said.

“We have the perpetrators in custody, and the people are in no danger,” Vigluicci said after he extended thanks to the people of Brimfield Township. “I know they were greatly inconvenienced and very scared.”

Brice Biggin, head coach of the gymnastics team, did not want any members of the team to comment on Positano’s murder. Positano managed the team.

“I am trying to protect the gymnast’s right now and get them back to normal as soon as possible,” Biggin said. “I really want the kids to stay with each other in this emotional and confusing time.”

Athletic Director Laing Kennedy said Positano’s parents were due in town yesterday and would be finalizing funeral arrangements. No arrangements have been announced for any of the victims.

The university will probably hold a memorial for Positano on campus, but no time, date or place has been determined, Kennedy said.

Contact safety reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected].