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2 trials set today for first time in 11 months

Potential jurors to try to distance themselves in large courtroom

Staff photo / Guy Vogrin Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald J. Rice and his magistrate Beth Aurillio survey Rice’s third-floor courtroom, which will be the scene of the first trial in more than 11 months at the courthouse in Warren. The jurors will be spread out beyound the regular box because of the social-distancing guidelines imposed last March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WARREN — For the first time in almost a year, the Trumbull County Courthouse is scheduled to be the scene of a criminal jury trial.

In fact, two trials are on the docket to start today as court officials readied courtrooms so potential jurors could be spread at least 6 feet apart and other room is made for potential witnesses, media members, the defendant and lawyers.

In a third-floor courtroom, defendant Edward Wymer, 33, of Garrettsville, is expected to stand trial on a 10-count indictment charging him with eight counts of gross sexual imposition and two counts of rape that carry potential life-without-parole sentences.

Wymer recently turned down a plea offer that would sentence him to 10 years to life in prison.

The alleged sex acts took place in various Trumbull County communities over a two-year span that began in February 2018, according to the indictment. The female victims, who are now ages 10, 12 and 14, are expected to testify, according to assistant Prosecutor Gabriel Wildman.

Magistrate Beth Aurillio said 40 potential jurors will be coming to the courthouse about 9 a.m. today and be placed for voir dire in the larger courtroom across the hall from Rice’s courtroom.

“During the trial there will be limited seating in the courtroom, but we will set up a live broadcast to members of the public in an adjacent hearing room,” Aurillio said.

Meanwhile, one floor below in the courtroom of Judge W. Wyatt McKay, a 42-year-old Milton Street SE man is expected to defend himself at trial on two charges — carrying a concealed weapon and having weapons under restrictions.

On Friday morning, defendant Vernon L. Turner, refused any plea offers from the prosecution and pronounced himself ready for trial, which is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. today.

Aurillio said after the jurors in Rice’s trial is selected, another 30 members of the juror pool for Turner’s trial will take their places for voir dire in the large third-floor courtroom.

Turner’s charges stem from an Aug. 30, 2019, arrest in Howland. Expected to testify in Turner’s trial, according to the witness list, are Howland police officers Adam Rios and Jordan Wert along with two workers at the Dollar Tree store on Elm Road in Howland.

Court officials have been trying to keep the possibility of jury trials to a minimum during the course of the pandemic. However, hearings in criminal proceedings have been going on as usual since the health restrictions went into place in March 2020.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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