High court declines to hear Widmer appeal

The United States Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the first appeal of Ryan Widmer’s conviction, according to court records. The Warren County man, who is serving 15 years to life in prison for murdering his wife, Sarah, is seeking a fourth trial.

The 32-year-old’s first conviction in 2009 was overturned by juror misconduct, a second jury was hung in 2010, and a third jury convicted him in 2011.

Widmer’s attorney, Michele Berry-Godsey, filed two petitions with the high court. Her first appeal asked the justices two questions: whether the bathtub was illegally ripped out of the couple’s home and whether “junk science” testimony about hand and forearm prints on the now infamous tub should have been allowed.

The high court denied the petition without comment.

Berry-Godsey could not be reached by phone for comment Monday, but did respond by text message stating, “It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court didn’t accept Ryan’s case, but the denial speaks nothing at all to the merits. So it isn’t a step backwards.”

She added, “The Supreme Court reviews thousands of petitions and only selects a small number that involve issues that the court believes need to be clarified for the entire country.”

Berry-Godsey said she will now pursue Widmer’s federal petition to the U.S. District Court.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said the high court’s decision was expected.

Fornshell said the appeal was denied for the same reasons the trial, district and state supreme court made the same decision: “There is not any merit to their argument,” he said.

“This was not some kangaroo court type situation where someone did not have a chance to get a fair trial,” Fornshell said, adding the majority of jurors who heard the case “overwhelmingly believed that Ryan Widmer killed his wife.”

In her second appeal, Berry-Godsey has asked the justices to consider whether Widmer’s request to have his wife’s DNA tested to see if she suffered from Long QT — a rare disorder that causes people to pass out and drown when they are near or in a body of water — should have been allowed.

The second appeal petition is still pending and will be discussed later this month, according to court officials.

Staff Writer Denise Callahan contributed to this report.

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