Tax money sought for Ohio bathtub drowning retrial

A man charged in the 2008 bathtub drowning of his wife wants taxpayers to pay almost $50,000 for experts to testify at his third trial.

Ryan Widmer is accused of drowning his wife Sarah Widmer, 24, in the bathtub of the couple's home in Warren County, north of Cincinnati.

Defendants who don't have money to defend themselves can ask the state to pay for experts; Widmer's attorneys filed a motion Wednesday asking the judge to declare him indigent, the Middletown Journal reported.

The Widmer family has spent almost $500,000 on Widmer's bond and defense, and almost $300,000 of that was for expert witnesses and attorneys' fees, Widmer's attorney, Jay Clark wrote in the motion. He noted that Widmer, 30, has not been able to work since he was arrested in August 2008 and his mother, Jill Widmer, has exhausted her retirement and savings accounts.

"Without court approved funds for experts, the prosecution will ultimately win the war by putting Ryan in a position where he can not muster the resources to present an effective defense," the motion says.

A jury found Widmer guilty of murder in April 2009. The judge set that conviction aside after determining juror misconduct. Jurors in Widmer's second trial could not reach a unanimous verdict required for conviction or acquittal and were dismissed.

Attorneys and others involved in the trial are under a gag order and cannot comment outside court.

Judge Neal Bronson on Wednesday ordered that a juror questionnaire be mailed, and court administrator Scott McVey said 200 potential jurors will be summoned. One hundred people were called for the previous trial.

The third trial is scheduled to start Jan. 18.