An attorney for Ryan Widmer has filed a second notice of appeal in the continuing legal battle seeking a fourth trial for the convicted murderer.
Attorney Michele Berry filed an appeal on Wednesday asking the 12th District Court of Appeals to overrule Warren County Common Pleas Judge Neal Bronson’s Jan. 18 ruling on her petition for a new trial.
Widmer, 31, who last lived in Mason, is serving 15 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him of murder last February in the 2008 drowning of his wife, Sarah, 24, in their Hamilton Township bathtub. It was his third trial, following two mistrials.
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Widmer already has an appeal of his conviction pending before the 12th District Court, but that brief did not contain issues presented in the motion to Bronson, explained Berry.
“You can’t ask the appellate court to review an issue until the trial court has had a chance to review it first. Now, since we lost the petition with Bronson, we have to appeal that denial as well and present all those new claims to the appellate court,” said Berry.
In those motions, Widmer’s lawyers wanted Bronson to order genetic testing that could show whether Sarah Widmer suffered from a genetic disorder than can disrupt heartbeats. They argued that such an undetected medical problem may have contributed to her drowning.
Widmer’s lawyers claimed the jury should have heard evidence that emerged after Widmer’s conviction showing that the lead investigator on the case, Lt. Jeff Braley, had likely made false representations about his job history and education on employment documents.
Bronson had refused to allow Widmer’s lawyers to grill Braley on those credibility issues largely because Braley had denied making the false claims. Braley resigned from the Hamilton Township police force in June after an independent investigator told trustees there was reason to consider launching a pre-disciplinary hearing over issues with his honesty.
Widmer’s attorneys also asserted that the jury lost its way and that authorities made crucial mistakes, including improperly seizing the bathtub in which Sarah Widmer had drowned.
“I’m going to request that the appellate court consolidate the two appeals so that when we eventually have an oral argument we can address all the claims at the same time,” said Berry.
Widmer has protested his innocence in post-conviction interviews, but did not testify during his trials. Berry has vowed to fight all the way to federal court if necessary.
“We have strong claims that warrant a new trial, and we will be relentless in our efforts to get that result,” she said.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said he had no comment on the second appeal.
Janice Morse contributed to this story
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