Rizer, who gave emotional testimony on her own behalf in her first trial last year, is charged with murdering her husband, Kenneth Rizer, Sr., in April, 2009. A jury seated to hear her case in October acquitted her of aggravated murder, but deadlocked on a lesser charge of murder.
The case began late last week in Meigs County Common Pleas Court in Pomeroy, Ohio, with Judge Fred W. Crow III presiding. Prosecuting Attorney Colleen Williams and Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Donohue are presenting the state’s case.
Dr. Russell Uptegrove, a forensic pathologist in the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, reviewed dozens of photographs taken of Kenneth Rizer’s body during the autopsy, which Uptegrove conducted in Dayton the day after Rizer’s death.
Those photos clearly show gunshot wounds and evidence of other injuries, including evidence of a broken bone Uptegrove said he believes was fractured by a bullet. Rizer’s right hand shows more evidence. Uptegrove identified several graze-type wounds, including one at the base of the dead man’s thumb, and another on the back of the thumb.
Attorney Herman Carson, who represents Rizer through the Ohio Public Defender’s Office, said in his opening statements one of those wounds is a clear sign of a struggle between the couple during the last remaining seconds of Kenneth Rizer’s life. Rizer claims she fired at her husband in self defense.
Other injuries caused by the six shots fired at Kenneth Rizer on April 3 included a torn aorta, two gunshot wounds to the heart, and damage to the liver. A bullet jacket was found in Rizer’s lung, Uptegrove told the jury.
Jurors heard two tape-recorded statements Paula Rizer gave the day of the shooting, conducted by Deputy Scott Trussell and, later, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation Agent Larry Willis.
Rizer told the two investigating officers she and her husband had been to the supermarket earlier in the day on April 3. She said when they returned home, her husband insisted on teaching her to use a semi-automatic handgun, that they had argued, and that once she fired a shot, the gun continued to fire.
• Donna Rose, a forensic scientist specializing in analysis of trace evidence, tested samples from both Rizers’ hands for particulate matter consistent with gunpowder, and found both tested positive. She said her analysis does not indicate who fired a gun or from what direction it fired.
• Abby Tignor of State Farm Insurance said the couple had a $20,000 life insurance policy, but that a loan outstanding had reduced its value.
Carson and Assistant Public Defender Glenn Jones will begin calling defense witnesses this morning.