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Estranged wife testifies in stabbing trial

Defendant Ryan Witmer,far left, of Eddington listens to his counsel, Portland attorney Daniel Lilley (cq) (standing), address the bench before the jury was seated for opening arguments at Penobscot Superior Court in Bangor Monday afternoon, October 26, 2009. Witmer was charged with trying to kill his estranged wife and her male friend in the summer of 2008. In the foreground is defense co-counsel, Portland attorney Darrick Banda (cq). (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine – The Orrington woman who testified that her former husband tried to kill her and her boyfriend 16 months ago covered her ears Tuesday as a recording of her 911 was played at the request of the defense during her alleged attacker’s jury trial in Penobscot County Superior Court.

The tape was played during the cross-examination of the 38-year-old woman during the second day of testimony in the trial of Ryan Witmer, 33, of Eddington. Witmer is charged with breaking into the home of his estranged wife in the early morning hours of June 29, 2008, and stabbing his wife and the 42-year-old man she was dating before slitting his own throat.

Defense attorney Daniel Lilley of Portland asked that the tape be played “to refresh” the woman’s memory because details of her trial testimony Monday and Tuesday differed from what she told a detective from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office about 36 hours after the alleged incident.

“I’d rather not hear the tape,” she told Lilley. “Will it refresh my recollection? I don’t know.”

While she spoke with a female dispatcher, the sound of moaning and heavy breathing could be heard in the background on the recording. The female victim also called a neighbor on another phone and took a call from the person who rented an apartment over the garage while she was on the line with the dispatcher.

“My husband just stabbed himself,” a woman’s voice said on the recording after she had told the dispatcher her location. “He just slit his throat. You need to come right now.”

During cross-examination, Lilley asked if the boyfriend routinely carried a knife or had a knife that night. She answered, “No.”

On the 911 recording, she was heard asking the male victim, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Where is it?”

“What were you referring to?” Lilley asked.

“[His] stab wounds,” she replied.

“You weren’t asking about his knife?” Lilley asked.


She explained that she was trying to put pressure on some of the man’s stab wounds as the dispatcher had instructed her.

The male victim is expected to take the stand Tuesday afternoon. The trial is expected to go the jury at the end of the week.

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