A convicted murderer in Ohio is being released from prison pending a new trial after his defense attorneys successfully argued that juror curiosity violated his right to a fair trial, according to WLWT news.
Ryan Widmer of Lebanon, Ohio, was serving 15 years to life for the murder of his wife, Sarah. Prosecutors say he drowned her in the bathtub, while the defense maintained that her drowning was accident. Widmer allegedly found his wife, called paramedics, drained the tub and attempted CPR.
A key point the prosecution made was that when paramedics arrived, Sarah Widmer’s body was dry, and her hair was damp, a finding that they maintained did not support Ryan Widmer’s timeline.
The defense countered that argument by calling forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Balko, who testified that a body can dry completely in such a short period of time, and that he himself had air dried that morning in only seven minutes.
This is where jurors took matters into there own hands.
According to an appeal motion filed by the defense, two jurors attempted similar experiments at home, and shared those findings with other jurors, which in turn influenced their verdict, WLWT reports.
Widmer’s defense team says that this qualifies as testimony, which was not available for cross-examination — a glaring violation of Widmer’s due process rights.
Presiding Judge Neal Bronson agreed, and granted Widmer a new trial. Widmer is currently released on a $1 million bond, and will be monitored by GPS following his release.