Jane Rimel could hardly finish her testimony
through her weeping and sobbing.
There before her as she sat on the
witness stand were photographic memories of her dead 5-year-old: the
Care Bear backpack Emily Rimel wore to kindergarten every day; the
Winnie the Pooh bedsheets; the purple and pink winter coat; the Bratz
tennis shoes ? the only pair she had.
After looking at the pictures, Rimel
sobbed, "I need my daughter back."
At one point during her two hours of
testimony, the prosecutor handed Rimel those shoes. They were found in
Emily?s Madison Township bedroom on the day she disappeared.
The shoes and other items from the room
are evidence that Emily didn?t walk out of the house in the middle of a
cold, December night nearly three years ago, prosecutors said.
Lindsey Bruce, a family friend who
often crashed on the family?s couch when he was drunk, also was missing.
He, too, had left in the middle of the night.
Yesterday, jurors in Bruce?s aggravated
murder trial in Franklin County Common Pleas Court relived Jane Rimel?s
frantic search for Emily after coming home from an overnight work shift
at 8 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2004, and finding the girl missing.
The search would consume her, the
Madison Township police and FBI agents for 17 months.
The girl?s skull was found on May 23,
2006, in Big Walnut Creek, but not until after Bruce had been convicted
of kidnapping Emily in an earlier trial. He is serving a 10-year prison
sentence for that crime. In the same trial, however, jurors acquitted
Bruce of raping Emily.
The girl was last seen in her bed on
the night her mother returned to a warehouse job for the first time
since being laid off a few months before.
Emily said she was ill, and Jane Rimel
sent her back to bed with a cup of orange juice and told her boyfriend,
Brent Copley, they would take the girl to the doctor the next day.
"We really needed the money, and I
thought she was just being paranoid," the mother sobbed into tissues.
"She knew Lindsey ever since she was 2 1 /2. She had no reason to be
afraid of him."
Bruce, a 25-year-old mechanic, had
never been anything but playful with Rimel?s two children. He was
allowed to come and go. If he left the apartment, he was told to wake
one of the adults so they could lock the apartment door behind him. That
didn?t happen the night Emily disappeared, and Copley continued to sleep
Yesterday, Jane Rimel talked about this
being the month that her daughter would have turned 8. And how before
her girl died she had put a new pair of sneakers on layaway to give her
Assistant County Prosecutor Jennifer
Rausch told jurors that evidence will show that police found the girl?s
DNA on Bruce?s penis and that he had confessed killing the girl to
several fellow inmates.
The state says Emily?s body was thrown
into Big Walnut Creek near a park across the street from her Reinbeau
Jurors went to see the apartment
yesterday and the creek that runs through Heisel Park. If they convict
Bruce of aggravated murder, they will be asked by prosecutors to impose
the death penalty.
Christopher Cooper is one of Bruce?s
attorneys. He cautioned jurors to test all evidence for credibility. He
said the state?s case is circumstantial and weak, especially the
expected testimony of several inmates, who Cooper said are testifying to
ease their own prison sentences.
"We must go through this process to
receive a fair trial, free of sympathy, empathy, prejudice and bias,"
Cooper said. "It?s a difficult case, and everyone wants closure, but so
does the family of Lindsey Bruce."
He said there are no witnesses to
Emily?s disappearance, no evidence of the cause of her death and no
explanation for the DNA on Bruce?s penis.