Trial Testimony - Day 6

Monday, March 30, 2009


The DEFENSE continues....


DEFENSE WITNESS - Dr. Werner Spitz, forensic pathologist and world-renowned death investigator.
Dr. Werner examined Sarah on August 15 at the Middletown Funeral home just three days after the county coroner performed his autopsy.  He has over 50 years of experience in forensic pathology.

...Prosecutors object to Rittgers's request for Spitz to list the famous cases he's examined, but Judge Neal Bronson overrules.

Dr. Spitz has testifed before Congress on the JFK and MLK slayings. He turned down a request to testify for OJ Simpson's defense and testified against him in OJ's civil trial. He testified in the Jon Benet Ramsey case, the "Preppy Murder" case, and about 7,000 others.

...Dr. Spitz agrees that Sarah's cause of death was drowning.

...Spitz begins to explain the drowning process. Says there's a difference between fresh water, brackish water and sea water. Differences largely based on salinity.

Charlie Rittgers asks Dr. Spitz to show the ladies and gentleman of the jury the drowning process by drawing it out.

Using a marker and a drawing board, Dr. Spitz begins to draw the anatomy of the respiratory system including, the lungs, blood vessels, esophagus and trachea. He also explains how a person drowns when water enters the lungs.  He compares the air sacs and tubes to a bunch of grapes and a stem. Describes blood vessels that connect to these, says they have a salinity of 0.9 percent.

...He explains how blood absorbs oxygen into the lungs.

Blood pressure change during drowning causes much bleeding when blood vessels are torn during process, Spitz says.  He explains to jurors what a bruise is. Discolored area of skin, usually from torn vein which spreads blood into surrounding tissue.  Bruises and contusions are same thing, he says. Or a black-and-blue mark.

Rittgers places an autopsy photo of Sarah’s arm on the projector screen and asks Dr. Spitz to describe the bruising to the jury.  He describes the bruising that was found on Sarah’s arm.

Rittgers asks Dr. Spitz to point out and explain to the jury the result of the discoloration of the bruises.

...He says that the large bruises found on Sarah’s body were caused by the medics who punctured needles into her body. Dr. Spitz mentions that when water gets into the bloodstream it increases blood pressure exaggerating the bruises on a victim's body. Diffusion of blood in area where wound made, he says.

...Photo shown of same part of arm, but dissected. Dark area is "all infiltrated with blood," which he says almost never happens with regular needle prick. Large area of blood, he says, consistent with freshwater drowning victim.

“There was no evidence of any hemorrhage or torn fingernails. There was no evidence of fracture to any of Sarah’s bones,” Dr. Spitz says.

...Rittgers continues to show a series of autopsy photos to the jury and asks Dr. Spitz to tell the jury his findings.

Dr. Spitz comments on Sarah’s scalp. He says that the bruises found on her head appeared to be in a continuous curved line and that this was a result from a sudden impact to a curved surface similar to the side of a bathtub.  Spitz explains that the edge of the bathtub is not a 90-degree edge, but curved. Suggests it may have caused bruises to Sarah's head. Curved area may cause several bruises from one impact, he says.

...Spitz is paging through his autopsy report, looking for note about "hairy scalp." Found no bald areas or missing areas. No chunks of missing hair, no injuries to hairy scalp. Her relatively short hair made such an examination easy, he says.

...He notes "French something" to Sarah's nails. French manicure? "I don't know, I don't do that to myself," he says to laughter. No damage to nails or to procedure used to embellish them. Nails relatively long, but not torn.

...He's explaining what the scalp is. "Like the skin on a chicken, the skin moves over the muscle," he says. Three or four bruises noted underneath scalp, behind right ear.

...No damage to skull, brain or membrane surrounding the brain, he says.

Rittgers asks, "Could contusions have rendered Sarah unconscious, in your experience?" No, Spitz says.

...Pink frothy fluid noted on mouth, possibly nose. Typical among drowning victims.

Photo shown of Sarah on autopsy slab with trachea tube inserted, and Spitz points out tube inserted into left jugular vein. Needle with tube attached, he says.

Autopsy photo shown of Sarah's neck after jugular tube removed. Some purplish bruising present. Sort of like three parallel lines, front to back, a couple of inches long.  Dr. Spitz says that the hemorrhaging is the result from rescue procedures.

Photo shown of left side of neck, upper torso, after jagged incisions made during autopsy. Area of bruising has enlarged, if faintly, from previous photo.   A gloved hand is visible in the photo, pulling back skin to reveal muscle and other tissue underneath. Another photo shown of dissected tissue showing darker areas, which Spitz circles and IDs as one hemorrhage.

They are identifying each photo and which autopsy it was from. In fact, they're showing a split screen of two photos of same area from each autopsy.

Spitz is asked why bruise seen in one area in earlier photo and different area in the second. He's standing up on the stand, using a handkerchief and his tie to illustrate the flesh pulled away, and says that blood has a weight and gravity which causes it to move from one area to another.

Rittgers asks why there is so much bruising depicted here?  A lot of dilution, or thinning, breaking up of red blood cells, possibly caused by CPR, intubation efforts, in addition to drowning process, Spitz says

The Judge asks Spitz to begin pointing things out instead of the defense attorney. Attorneys are not allowed to testify, only question.

...Spitz circles a bruise on Sarah's neck, near right collarbone. He says this bruise is separate from contusion on left side of neck.

...Photo shown of back of Sarah's neck, with incision made from nape down what appears to be neck's length. Some bruising present on tissue under skin, Spitz says. More photos shown of same area, with skin pulled further away and bruising still present.

...Spitz says she drowned, had injuries produced by intense, aggressive resuscitative procedure or procedures. Cause of death drowning, manner of death is still unclear, undetermined.

...Must consider that there was no evidence of a violent struggle at scene or on Sarah or Ryan's bodies. No evidence of injury on body by way of fingernail marks, missing hair, bruises on back, no DNA under fingernails. Fingernails, knees intact, Spitz says.

...Drowning process makes added water, added pressure in blood system makes wounds look worse than they actually are.

...He mentions sudden death syndrome. Used to be that no one really understood why healthy people suddenly died for no apparent reason, he says.  

(Reporter's note:  See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/medical_notes/424813.stm)  

...Recent studies show some heartbeat irregularities, epileptic seizures in those who've never been diagnosed or had seizures, Spitz says.


No further questions. Spitz excused for morning recess.

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RECESS
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Court back in session


PROSECUTION CROSS EXAM:


Prosecutor Vieux asks, "Are you paid for your testimony?"

"I'm paid for my time, yes." Spitz replies.   He charges $400 per hour or $5,000 per day for any out of office time. Includes travel time from his office near Detroit. He travels by car.

Prosecutor Travis Vieux asks Spitz about his textbook.

...Spitz says he wrote most chapters, but not all. Also served as editor with son Daniel Spitz, who wrote some chapters.

The prosecutor asks, "Is it fair to say contents of book offer best advice, educational experience to pass on to other coroners, forensic pathologists, students?"  Yes, Spitz says.

...Spitz did not speak with any witnesses or medics in the case. He has not spoken with any EMS representative and he has not reviewed any reports of any of the previous witnesses.

...Any information about the case would have come from Rittgers, not witnesses. Did not speak to Sarah's family or the lead detective (Lt. Jeff Braley).

...Spitz agrees it's important to consider all available data. Spitz is not sure what Vieux means about primary sources of information, in response to question about whether they are best sources of information.

...Prosecutor Vieux shows a page on projector from Spitz's book.

...Spitz says that anything that appears peculiar during autopsy should be investigated fully. Investigations of drownings should include a number of factors, including police investigations, Spitz says.

Spitz reading from his own report about condition of Sarah's body (nude, unembalmed, previous autopsy, properly nourished, apparently 24 years old).

...Agrees that pink frothy fluid often present on drowning victims, unless washed off or otherwise removed.

...Spitz says pruning is not evidence of drowning, but evidence that body has been in water for a long time, particularly warm water.  Wrinkling can begin in about 20 minutes, but the warmer the water the less time is needed, he says.

Wrinkling of skin cannot be used as determination of length of time in water, Spitz says. (Reading from his book, shown on projector, but agrees with statement.)

Rittgers objects when Vieux talks over Spitz's response about pruning.

...He says he was already finished, and agrees that he had noted some hemorrhaging to Sarah's eyelids.  

...No bite marks or other abnormalities seen on tongue, Spitz says.

...Found evidence of bruise to back of neck. Spitz asks Vieux where he's reading from in the report, asks for page number and location on page. Vieux provides it, then reads from report. Vieux says interior neck bruising is often found in cases of strangulation.  Spitz agrees.  

“If the drowning is a process that is on its own and compounding situations are evident then this is not a true drowning,” Dr. Spitz says. Pure drowning, when you don't touch a body, doesn't produce bruising, but drowning and something else can produce bruises. Resuscitative efforts or other manipulation of body can produce those injuries, Spitz says.

Dr. Spitz performed a microscopic examination of the larynx and said he did not find any hemorrhaging in that area. He says the thyroid cartilage was intact.

Vieux also reveals that Spitz did not find any evidence of injury on the chest plate, no injury to the brain, no bite marks on Sarah and no hemorrhaging in the epiglottis.

Cause of death drowning, but no opinion rendered about manner of death. Yes, Spitz says, uncertain about the manner of death. Spitz adds, “I have the opinion that the manner of death is undeterminable under these set of circumstances that we have in this case.”

...Spitz says a seizure could contribute as risk factor for drowning.

Prosecutor Vieux asks, "Do seizures occur more commonly around water?"  Spitz replies maybe it does, maybe it says that in my book. But why should they occur more on water than on dry land?

"Could reflections from water trigger a seizure?", Vieux asks.  Spitz says some people think so, but I included a lot of things in book so reader can get idea of what's out there in literature, Spitz replies. But in his experience, water does not, but could be proven so one day.

...Majority of seizures suffered at home, Spitz says, but some people say that photogenic reflection from water can trigger seizures, Spitz says.

...No history of seizures, Spitz says. No other brain problems noted, but could be first seizure. That would be consistent with first seizure as much as if she'd had previous episodes.

...Headaches do not indicate specific diagnosis.

Ideally, history of seizures would show previous episodes of convulsions, foaming at mouth, confusion, etc. Absence of these is meaningful only if someone who has seen these episodes. Spitz says he has no such info.
No history of such condition, but no evidence to suggest one way or the other.

Spitz says his experience does not support claim that seizures onset in infancy or in those over 60 years old. Says they can onset any time.

Spitz cannot diagnose whether Sarah suffered seizure disorder, but it is possible. Possible she had seizure and drowned, also possible that she had heart irregularity that contributed to her death but did not show up on autopsy as observable abnormality.

...Spitz says he's talking about sudden, unexpected death in a state of convulsion. Often lumped in with epilepsy, but no one knows how they died.

...Spitz recalls similar drowning of victim who was known to have epilepsy, which he says also would produce foamy excretions.

...Spitz says even competent autopsies can fail to reveal contributing factors. Vieux asks if he agrees with book that such deaths often occur after exercise or intense emotional episodes.  Spitz would not consider soaking in a bathtub as exercise. Doesn't know what kind of exercise would be feasible in bathtub. Doesn't have experience with bathtub as intense emotional experience.

...Spitz says evidence at face value does not suggest specific condition.

Increased blood pressure, blood dilution could cause extensive bruising, Spitz says. Says that information included in his textbook.  He's not sure where that info is located, but says he's sure Vieux will read to him from that page. Vieux says that info not included, asks if Spitz wants to look in his book for it. Spitz suggests he look ahead in book from page he's quoted from.

Vieux says Spitz told him he had not written that portion of the book, and Spitz asks him to read ahead in the book. Vieux suggests that info isn't there, and Spitz testily asks him to continue reading. Spitz says he doesn't want to sit on stand for an hour reading, looking for this portion.

Spitz agrees that absence of fingertip, fingernail marks does not rule out strangulation. Agrees that sometimes strangulation leaves few or not external trauma.

...Spitz says hyroid bones become more rigid at about age 30.

Vieux says, the last prosecution witness suggested that Sarah's head was held under water long enough for her to drown.  In a manner similar to strangulation, but cause of death still drowning, that witness said.

Spitz agrees that it's possible for person to drown in 30 seconds or less. Could become unconscious in less time than that.

Vieux is asking about choke holds, in particular a sleeper hold, which deprives brain of blood flow and can cause unconsciousness.  Spitz agrees that such a hold might not cause external injuries.  Significantly less force needed to subdue someone than a choke hold, Spitz agrees.

Spitz says sleeper hold could cause pinpoint hemorrhages in eyelids, but not sure about other internal injuries.   Would the unconsciousness caused by sleeper hold be similar to falling asleep? Yes, Spitz agrees. That's why some police use it.

...Spitz says epileptic seizure possible as potential contributor to unconscious state, but not saying that's what happened.  Says she could have suffered from sudden death syndrome.

...Vieux asking about body temperature cooling under various circumstances. Spitz agrees that environment, illness and exertion can affect body temperature for a time.

...Spitz agrees that after death, sphincter can relax and release fecal matter due to gravity. But says it doesn't always happen.

...Rigor mortis sets in within half hour after death in temperate climates, Spitz says.

...Spitz agrees that rigor mortis should be considered during efforts to intubate.

...Spitz agrees that drowning caused death, and said he testified that he had no opinion on manner of death. Vieux asks if he sent letter March 19 saying that he had no opinion on that.

"I am of the opinion that the manner of death is undetermined," Spitz says. "Manner of death not really undetermined, because that means by me." He says the manner of her death is actually undeterminable with information available.


No further questions.

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DEFENSE REDIRECT:


Rittgers hands Spitz 4th edition of textbook, asks him to read highlighted section.

Most of the early drowning studies were conducted on animals and demonstrated that drowning in fresh or brackish water caused blood dilution due to increased intravascular volume in the blood vessels.

Difference in salinity of blood inside vessels attracts fresh water.

Water in air sacs gets attracted to blood vessels in air sacs, gets circulated around and causes dilution in blood, causes higher blood pressure and breaks up red blood cells.

Soaking in tub an emotional experience?  No, Spitz says.  What about falling asleep in tub, gulping large amounts of water, would that be intense emotional experiece?  Probably not, he says, but would cause person to wake up.

Very difficult to get rid of water absorbed into system, Spitz says. Can't just use a magnet to get rid of it.

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PROSECUTION RECROSS EXAM:


Vieux asks about the chapter about drowning, and Spitz suggests Vieux can't understand it because he's a lawyer, not a scientist. "I appreciate your..." Vieux starts, evenly. Spitz holds up hands, shrugs and says he's sorry, but...

...Vieux suggests that the book does not mention contusions becoming worse during drowning. "This is not a book about contusions and drowning," Spitz says, and suggests that if he included every possibility the book would be impossible to carry.

...To suggest that the book negates that is wrong, Spitz says.

...Some believe that healthy person cannot inhale enough water to cause dilution, but Spitz says he's performed experiments to prove it does. Spitz's phone begins to chime on the stand, and he apologizes profusely as he shuts it off.

....Vieux says he has nothing further, and the judge excuses Spitz for both the cell phone ("Just this once," Bronson says wryly) and from the stand.

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LUNCH BREAK

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DEFENSE WITNESS: Kathryn Louise Cook, friend of Sarah's since preschool


She and Sarah continued their friendship through high school and into adulthood, saw each other about once a month and talked about every other day.

...Cook says Sarah was a caring person, would do anything for anyone.  “Sarah was a very energetic person; if you needed something she will be right there. She wasn’t shy at all, she was very direct,” Cook says.

Cook met Ryan in the fall of 2006, during her own wedding events (rehearsal dinner, etc.) Cook got to know him better after he and Sarah bought house. Never saw couple fighting, they seemed happy together.

Defense attorney Robert Dziech asks Cook a number of questions about Ryan including if he has anger problems or drinking issues.

...Sarah never indicated that Ryan had anger problem, and she never saw him get angry. Saw him drink alcohol, but never believed he might have drinking problem. Sarah never indicated to her that he did.  Never saw bruises on Sarah.

...Says Sarah sometimes complained of sinus headaches, including night of her death.

...Says she knew Sarah had fallen asleep in bathtub before. They'd spoken of that before, because Cook said she had fallen asleep there, too.

Dziech asks Cook to tell the jury about her last conversation with Sarah on the day she died.

...Cook spoke with Sarah around 7 p.m. on the night she died. Sarah was excited about Cook's baby shower and trip she just got home from taking. No indication that Ryan was mad she'd left.

...“The night that I talked to her, she said that she had a headache” Cook says.

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CROSS EXAM:


"Do you recall the date her father passed away," Vieux asks.

Cook recalls the date. March 2 she says.

Sarah's father had cancer for a long time, was it a hard time for Sarah?, Vieux asks.  Yes, Cook says.

...Does Cook recall Sarah falling asleep in class, while driving, during wedding?  Vieux asks.

...No, Cook says. Nor did she fall asleep unexpectedly during father's passing.

Cook never went to Sarah's family lake house.

Cook not aware whether Sarah upset by Ryan's kegerator. Doesn't know if Sarah took Tylenol night of death. Visited Sarah's apartment in Newport, went out drinking with her, but never saw her fall asleep at bars.

Vieux asks Cook a series of questions about Sarah’s sleeping habits. Cook tells the jury that she didn’t notice any odd sleeping patterns by Sarah.

“Did you ever witness Sarah have a seizure,” Vieux asks. Cook responds by saying no.

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DEFENSE WITNESS:


Dana Parker-Kist, knew Sarah through mutual friend, helped her get job at Dr. Becker's office


Parker-Kist worked at that office as receptionist, became friends. Sarah very outgoing, very easy to become friends with. Parker-Kist told Sarah she was pregnant before she even told husband. The two shared a lot of private information.  The two of them would go out to lunch quite often. Kist mentions that Sarah would sleep during lunch.

...Sarah shared private thoughts with those she loved. Parker-Kist becomes teary and emotional as she says Sarah loyal, honest. Takes a moment to regain composure.

...Even after she completed nursing degree and got new job, they got together for lunch and spoke often.
She was very sleepy for 24-year-old girl, Parker-Kist says. Sarah slept in car, and she sometimes woke her up.  When watching movies at home, Sarah often fell asleep before previews finished.

...Parker-Kist met Ryan around 2002. Ryan was college roommate of her husband, and Parker-Kist and her husband helped introduce Ryan and Sarah in August 2006. Set up a dinner, and it went well. Seemed like they hit it off right away. Seemed like they kind of completed each other, she says.

...Never saw them fight, she says. Tried to double date often in beginning, and she continued to talk to Sarah weekly after Parker-Kist got new job. Sarah never complained of Ryan's anger.

...Says Sarah bought Ryan a kegerator. Says Ryan was quiet, laid back when drinking.

...No indication that Sarah was abused, or that they had financial problems, she says.

...Kist mentions an incident where the four of them went on a double date and Sarah fell asleep at the very beginning of the date.

“She would call and ask me about different things she could take for her headaches,” Kist says.

...Says Sarah complained frequently of migraines. Says Ryan and Sarah wanted children, but Sarah said she was too selfish to have children just prior to her death. Planned to get puppy, but intended to wait for children.

...Not aware of any disputes between Ryan and Sarah over finances.

Parker-Kist says she came into contact with investigators during their visit to Dr. Becker's office, and says authorities were looking for a motive.

Prosecutors object.

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PROSECUTION CROSS EXAM:


Kist was surprised medical exam didn't turn up anything about migraines. Says Sarah could not take Advil, but she'd given Sarah Tylenol.

Prosecutor Arnold acts very surprised, loudly repeats "Tylenol?" and asks if Parker-Kist would be suprised if blood test showed there was no Tylenol in Sarah's body.

...Arnold shows chart that shows Sarah had not taken any Tylenol the night she died. Parker-Kist seems a little baffled.

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DEFENSE WITNESS: Dr. Ben Messmer, dentist at Becker's office


...Sarah was a great worker, had lovely personality, fun to be around in workplace. Seemed like a good person.

...Messmer says he met Ryan during social outing at a bar.

...Messmer talks about scrubs that Sarah wore for work. He says Sarah never complained of abuse. Never saw Sarah and Ryan fight, did not know of financial problems or drinking problems.

...Messmer says Sarah sometimes was asleep in her car when she arrived before him. It wasn't every day, but maybe once or twice per week.  Sarah sometimes slept at lunch too, he says.

...Messmer says Sarah complained of not feeling well the day she died. Stomach issues, he believes. "I don't think she felt good that day," he says.

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PROSECUTION CROSS EXAM:


Were there some days where Sarah worked through lunch and other days when she would sleep in car?  Were they planned? Yes, Messmer says. He never saw her fall asleep while working. She did not take an alarm clock to car, he says.

...Never saw Sarah fall asleep in social setting or have convulsive seizure.

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Defense attorney Robert Dziech asks to speak with judge before next witness called.

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DEFENSE WITNESS: Shirley Bonekemper, Ryan's employer at Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau


...Ryan currently on unpaid leave of absence. He was on paid leave for 30 days, but then status changed to unpaid. Ryan works in sports marketing sales.

...He worked in that position for about a year, and has done a great job. Started out part-time, doing research, then promoted and charged with putting together some bids. Then promoted to sales and charged with submitting bids and making sales presentations.

...Did she ever see any anger issues with Ryan? Never. Ever see him lose his temper? No, she says.

...Met Sarah at picnic Bonekemper hosted and at two Reds games through work. Also attended their wedding. Cute couple, obvious they were in love, she says. Smiling a lot, holding hands.

...She says her employees had insurance, about $20,000. Not sure about life insurance on Sarah.

...Bonekemper says she has visited Ryan and several staff members got together with him, and she's attended those meetings.

Prosecutors object when Dziech asks her about Ryan's demeanor since Sarah's death.

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PROSECUTOR CROSS EXAM:


...Were you at Widmer home Aug. 11? No.

...Do you know who was there? No.

...So you don't know what happened that night. No, she admits.

No further questions.

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DEFENSE WITNESS: Carol Monnin, Finance and HR assistant at Warren Co. Convention and Visitors Bureau


...Ryan started as intern and promoted two or three times.

Prosecutors object about promotions question, but overruled.

...She saw Sarah and Ryan together during social settings associated with work. She says that she never noticed Ryan to have any anger problems or the two of them fighting.

Monnin was in charge of Ryan's benefts. He would have been unable to get life insurance on his wife through work. She gave Ryan advice prior to wedding, when she found out Sarah was Catholic. Monnin is part of an  organization that promotes pre-marriage counseling from other marriage counselors, and not an unmarried priest.  Ryan is about the same age as her own children, so she encouraged him to seek that counseling instead of a priest's.

...Ryan had listed Sarah as primary beneficiary of his benefits before they were married.

...Ryan joked the day Sarah died because a longtime employee had recently resigned, and he said he was moving up the ladder, Monnin says.

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PROSECUTION CROSS EXAM:


Monnin saw Ryan and Sarah at business-related social gatherings.

Monnin reiterates these gatherings were social in nature. Admits she doesn't know what happened at Widmer home night Sarah died.

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DEFENSE WITNESS: Benjamin Huffman, Ryan's direct supervisor


Ryan is what we consider a soft sell, he says. He goes to clients and says come, we'll assist you and make your event better. No anger issues.

...Met Sarah at several company outings. Went to lunch with Ryan on Saturday before Sarah's death, and he was talking excitedly of getting puppy. Said they weren't ready to have kids, but would like to one day. Says the couple seemed happy.

The Saturday before Sarah died, Ryan mentioned to him about him buying Sarah a puppy.  He said that it will be like their first kid.

...Ryan seemed normal on day of Sarah's death. Had afternoon meeting with him, and nothing seemed to be bothering him.

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PROSECUTION CROSS EXAM:


Prosecutor, John Arnold asks, "So you don’t know what happened in that home, the night of August 11?"

"No," Huffman says.

"Thank you, no further questions, your honor," Arnold says.

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DEFENSE WITNESS: Jill Widmer, Ryan's mother


...Technically, Ayran's the oldest by about 8 minutes, and younger brother Kyle 22 months younger than twins.

...No anger issues with Ryan. Probably most laid back of three boys.

...Ryan drinks about as much as other sons, occasionally at social gatherings. Ryan met Sarah when she was 22, struck by her wisdom and maturity. Instantly fell in love with her,  Jill loved her like a daughter. Sarah liked to talk, and I like to talk. Eyes brimming with tears, but Jill holding it together.

...Says her family very close, no shy people. Sarah never had problem being candid, honest with her. Bubbly person.

...Ryan’s mother tells the jury that she interacted with Sarah during family functions such as barbeques.

...Says she went to lake cabin in Kentucky almost every summer weekend, Ryan and Sarah somewhat less often. Sarah didn't typically sleep during day, when water sports and other activities were going on, but would often sleep around 11 p.m. on a lounge chair.

Ms. Widmer begins to tell the jury what happened the night that Sarah died. She says she received a phone call from Ryan around 11 p.m. He was sobbing and she could barely understand him.  

“He said, Mom, I’m at Bethesda North Hospital, I think Sarah fell asleep in the bathtub,” and he needed her to meet him at the hospital. He said Sarah might be dead.

Ryan fell on floor on his knees and wept with his head down in chair when told Sarah was dead.  He asked for the priest who'd married them.

...Coroner investigator was at hospital and apologized, but asked Ryan some questions about Sarah's death.

...Asked Ryan to explain what happened.

...Ryan's mother says she went back to Ryan's house to upstairs bedroom to get clothes for Ryan, saw pieces of carpet cut out from floor. Nothing else unusual. Took Ryan to her house, sat around talking with relatives about Sarah and cried. Went to bed around 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. She and Ryan lay down for a few hours.

...Met with Steward family the next day and went to funeral home to make arrangements. Was that the last time Ryan saw the Steward family?

Prosecution Objects... sustained.

...Ryan's mother saw Sarah the night of her death. Sarah had just gotten home from St. Louis trip with her mother and grandmother. Jill had hosted impromptu cookout, Sarah and Ryan attended. Noted nothing unusual about them.

...Prosecutors object when Dziech asks if Ryan has changed, where he now sleeps.

Both sustained.

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PROSECUTION CROSS EXAM:


Arnold apologizes for Jill's loss. Any indication that Sarah suffered seizures? No.

“You described for us some occasions where Ryan and Sarah would go to your lake home, right,” Arnold asks.

“Correct,” Widmer says.  Bright sun, lots of water? Yes.

“Did you notice anytime Sarah fell asleep,” Arnold asks.

“No,” she replies.

...No wrestling at Jill's cookout. No other women at Widmer home, so no reason for unidentified female DNA under Sarah's fingernails.

...Sarah worked as a dental assistant? Yes, as a dental hygienist.

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DEFENSE WITNESS:  Mandy Antonczak, Ryan & Sarah's next door neighbor


..Antonczak knew Widmers about a year, referred to them as Ozzie and Harriet because they were so cute.

She was home on the night of Sarah's death, dogs started going nuts when police arrived at Widmers. She assumed they were going somewhere else, but woke up husband when she saw EMT run into Widmer house.

Antonczak heard nothing from the Widmer house that night, but can easily hear things in that neighborhood. She and her husband looked out upstairs window but didn't go outside with other neighbors, didn't want to embarrass injured person.

Antonczak about 30 feet away when Ryan came outside. It was dark, so she was unable to see facial expressions. He appeared to be lost, wandered around until ushered into ambulance. He dropped head into hands, and that's when she knew something was serious. Husband went to bed, she watched TV until officers came to door and asked questions.

Officers asked if Widmers going on trip anytime soon? Hear any arguments, etc.
They said they'd be back the next day with more questions. Officer told Antonczak that Sarah was in bad shape.

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PROSECUTION CROSS EXAM:


...Knew Widmers for a year and half, socialized? Yes. Fall asleep during dinner party? Never had a dinner party. Convulsive seizures? No.

...Complain of headaches? Never. Any other cars at Widmers the night of Sarah's death? No.

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DEFENSE RE-DIRECT:


No visitors at Widmers that night?  No.

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DEFENSE WITNESS: Zachary Zoe, Attorney in Hamilton, Knew Ryan about six or seven years through Kists


Zoe has Bengals tickets, tailgates with Kists and Widmers.

...Sarah would sometimes go to Bengals games, but not usually. Otherwise, knew her some through social gatherings. They were great together, Zoe says.

......He says that Sarah would fall asleep during social engagements and at Cincinnati Bengals football games.

...Sarah often dozed off, including Irish pub in Mason. Unscheduled naps, he says.

...Zoe saw Sarah take naps during tailgate parties, but then wake up and socialize.

...Remembers Sarah asking his wife for medication for a headache during visit to Irish pub.

...The defense asks him about the night of August 11. Zoe tells the jury the advice he gave to Ryan.  He advised Ryan to get an attorney before he had been charged. Said if questioned by police, recommended that he get an attorney.

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PROSECUTION CROSS EXAM:


Sarah often fell asleep despite loud music, other noise. Never went to lake house, no convulsive seizures.

..."Almost every time we've got together, I've seen her doze off, but those are too most odd places I've seen her doze off," Zoe says.

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Defense says they are out of witnesses for the day. Two fact witnesses for tomorrow, and two doctors.

Judge jokes that the jury can just sit there until 4:30 p.m., but then instructs them not to check out media accounts and come back tomorrow.