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Trial starts in Trumbull

Man accused of gross sexual imposition, rape

Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald J. Rice, right, has a sidebar with TC assistant Prosecutor Gabriel Wildman, left, and Defense attorney David Rouzzo, center, during the opening day of the Edward Wymer trial. (Photo by R. Michael Semple)

WARREN — One of two trials scheduled on the Trumbull County Common Pleas docket for Monday proceeded as scheduled.

The other trial in the courthouse had to be canceled as the defendant didn’t show up to lead his own defense.

In a third-floor courtroom, the first of three girls scheduled to testify accused Edward L. Wymer, 33, of Garrettsville, of fondling her in November 2019 as she tried to sleep in the bedroom of her Niles home.

Wymer is accused in 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.

Testimony is expected to continue today with two of Wymer’s alleged victims, now ages 10 and 12, scheduled to testify.

The girl, now 14, admitted to Judge Ronald J. Rice that she was nervous as she stepped to the witness stand.

She told the jury she awoke to find the defendant sitting on her bed. He then began to fondle her “in places I didn’t want to be touched” above the clothes. When she told him to stop, the defendant left the room, she testified.

The teen then told the jury she went to her mother’s bedroom to tell her what happened. She said she then went to school the next day and told a teacher and a counselor about the attack that took place in November 2019, according to reports.

The mother of the victim also testified Monday saying she had known the defendant since he was a child and once had dated him.

During cross-examination by defense attorney David Rouzzo, the mother admitted to exchanging social media messages with Wymer after he had been arrested on the charges and released from jail after posting bond.

The girl testified the defendant had stayed with the family when they lived in Warren.

“I had known him as Uncle Eddie,” she said. “(He) was a pretty nice guy. He used to play games with us, but I don’t see us doing that with him anymore.”

The girl, who now is homeschooled, also told the jury she was warned by her cousin that Wymer “had done bad things.”

In his opening statement, Assistant Prosecutor Gabriel Wildman said this is a case about trust.

“The evidence will show this man betrayed this family’s trust,” Wildman said.

In his opening, Rouzzo said the prosecution’s evidence is designed to elicit sympathy from the jurors.

“Don’t be swayed by this sympathy,” Rouzzo told the jurors.

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.

Magistrate Beth Aurillio said because of social distancing of the jury, which includes two alternates, seating is limited in the courtroom. A live simulcast has been set up in an adjacent hearing room for members of the public who want to attend, Aurillio said.

This is the first criminal jury trial to take place in about a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, one floor below in the courtroom of Judge W. Wyatt McKay, a 42-year-old Milton Street SE man did not appear Monday to defend himself at trial on two charges — carrying a concealed weapon and having weapons under restrictions.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of Vernon L. Turner, according to McKay, who had to release 27 members of a juror pool who showed up Monday afternoon at the courthouse for the scheduled beginning of Turner’s trial.

Turner’s charges stem from an Aug. 30, 2019, arrest in Howland.

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