By Marty Hubbell
What’s next in the Ryan Widmer case? Expect the defense to file a motion for a new trial in the next few days. This motion must be filed within 14 days of the verdict that was rendered on February 15, 2011.
This motion is critical for Widmer’s case, and is separate from the appeal of his actual murder conviction. His appeal would be to the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown, Ohio; the motion for a new trial would be heard by Judge Bronson in the Warren County Common Pleas Court. The appeal will not be filed until the upcoming motion is resolved in the trial court.
Why is this motion for a new trial important? The 12th District Court of Appeals is probably the most conservative appellate court in the State of Ohio; less criminal convictions are overturned in this court than in any other appellate district. If he cannot persuade Judge Bronson to grant him a new trial, it is likely that the next significant hearing for Ryan Widmer will occur in about 14.5 years, at his first parole hearing.
The defense attorneys are scrambling to find any and all evidence they can to support the motion. From the press releases thus far, it appears that they are going to try to argue some form of juror misconduct.
As I walked out of the Warren County Common Pleas Court in Lebanon, Ohio, this morning, the mood was tense. I had been at the courthouse for a hearing of my own, and couldn’t help but notice the frenzy of reporters and news cameras in and around the area. Virtually every news station in Dayton and Cincinnati was there.
Ryan Widmer, the husband accused of murdering his young wife, was standing in the hallway next to the lobby. He was surrounded by his legal team and a number of supporters. Widmer looked tired and scared. Unlike his previous days at court, he wasn’t laughing. Nor was he smiling. I wonder if something has changed for Ryan Widmer? Maybe he is starting to realize the gravity of this trial – what has been lost, and what is at stake.
I wonder if this attitude change is related to the mystery witness? Is her testimony as damaging as the prosecution seems to suggest? Her role in this ever increasing drama may be pivotal – and, at the least, very interesting.