By Marty Hubbell
The Ryan Widmer jury deliberations continue into the second day.
I was in the courthouse this morning, and saw the bathtub that the jurors must walk past to get to the jury room. I’m sure that is a sobering thought as they begin their deliberations.
Yesterday the prosecution requested that Judge Bronson read an instruction on the lessor offense of involuntary manslaughter. The defense objected, but secretly I think they welcome this option.
If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict on the murder charge, they then can discuss the lessor charge of involuntary manslaughter. Oftentimes, this scenario leads to what is called a compromise verdict. In my experience, when given two options, and the case is not open-and-shut, juries will choose the lessor charge as a compromise.
This has already happened in this case. In the first Widmer trial, the jury was presented with two options: aggravated murder and murder. They found him not guilty of aggravated murder but guilty of murder.
In the second trial, the jury just had to consider the murder charge. Depending on which report you believe, the jury was deadlocked 8-4 or 10-2 in favor of guilt.
Now, the jury will consider the murder charge and the lessor charge of involuntary manslaughter. I think this jury will reach a verdict, and most likely on the lower charge.
What does this mean for Ryan Widmer? On the murder charge he is facing a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life in prison. On the manslaughter charge he is facing one to five years in prison. Given that he has no prior record, the Court could consider placing him on community control (probation), with no additional jail/prison time.