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Accused takes stand in stabbing trial

John Clarke Russ | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN
During a recess at Penobscot County Superior Court in Bangor, Ryan Witmer turns toward the gallery behind him while conferring with his defense team, Portland attorneys Daniel Lilley (standing, left) and Darrick Banda (seated, right) on Monday afternoon. (BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY JOHN CLARKE RUSS) CAPTION During a recess at Penobscot Superior Court, Ryan Witmer briefly turns towards the gallery behind him while conferring with his defense team--Portland attorneys Daniel Lilley(left, standing) and Darrick Banda (cq) (seated, right) Monday afternoon, October 26, 2009. Witmer, of Eddington, was charged with trying to kill his estranged wife and her male friend in the summer of 2008. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The Eddington man accused of trying to kill his 37-year-old estranged wife and her 42-year-old boy-friend in June 2008 took the stand in his own defense Friday.

Ryan Witmer, 33, testified that he met his now ex-wife while both were working at Community Health and Counseling Services in Bangor. The two were married on May 17, 2002.

Testimony about the night of June 28, 2008 — when Witmer allegedly violated a protection from abuse order, broke into the house he had shared with his ex-wife in Orrington, and attacked and stabbed her new boyfriend 11 times before turning the knife on himself — was expected to resume Friday afternoon.

Witmer is expected to tell the jury that he did not go to the house with the intention of killing anyone but out of concern for his then 7-month-old daughter.

On Friday morning, Witmer described his relationship with his ex-wife as good until early 2008. He testified that he was involved in caring for his two stepchildren by his ex-wife’s first marriage. He also told the jury that he was very involved in the daily care of his daughter.

That contradicted somewhat the ex-wife’s testimony Tues-day. She said that Witmer was “not very interested” in her children and did not spend much time with them. She said that he did care for their daughter.

Witmer’s mother also testified Friday. She said that she had to go to court to be able to see her granddaughter. She also said that earlier this year, the male victim, who now lives with Witmer’s ex-wife, told her not to refer to him by his name in front of the child because she now calls him “Daddy.”

The ex-wife testified that she and the male victim plan to wed and he plans to adopt the girl, who will turn 2 next month.

The trial is expected to go to the jury on Monday.

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