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Shaken by the guilty verdict, Ryan Widmer leaves the courtroom after his first trial.

On an ordinary August evening in a quiet Hamilton Township neighborhood, as summer slowed down like an unwound clock, something happened at 5250 Crested Owl Court that stopped time forever for Sarah Widmer.

Her new husband, Ryan, called 911 and said she had fallen asleep and drowned in her bathtub.

Detectives stretched crime-scene tape, cut squares from the carpet, dusted the tub for prints, studied her autopsy and decided: He had murdered her.

"Nobody knows what's going on in your house except you," says Ray Diss of Loveland. That's his take after 10 days as a juror in the murder trial last spring.

He's right. People think they know. But even after a riveting trial that went national, even after 23 hours of deliberations, a unanimous guilty verdict, a 15-to-life sentence and then a surprising reversal of the verdict for juror misconduct, the mystery remains.

Barring a plea deal, the Widmer mini-series resumes in May. Maybe we will finally find out: Who is the real Ryan Widmer?

Is it the softball-buddy, clean-cut kid next door who broke down and cried when the verdict was read? Or the one who wore a face as cold and blank as a headstone during a graphic courtroom slide show of his young wife's autopsy?

Is it the one in a suit and tie? Or the one with creepy tattoos of spiders and skulls on his arms and shoulders?

Is it the distraught newlywed who dialed 911, or the calculating caller who tripped on his own tangled stories and 911 tapes?

"We would prefer not to do it again," says Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel, speaking for detectives and prosecutors who watched their hard work turn to ashes when the guilty verdict flipped. "But if we have to, let's do it," she says. "This will be one of the really big ones."

The first trial was big enough "” jammed with rows of laptop-clicking reporters, spectators and hidden cameras from Court TV and Dateline NBC. Thousands outside followed it on live blogs.

It sent shards spinning off like breaking glass. A 911 dispatcher was accused of mishandling Ryan's call "” then cleared. A bidder on the Widmers' empty brick home in Hamilton Township backed out when he learned its grim history.

Jurors were unanimous, then turned on each other. There were candlelight vigils for Ryan, whose legal bills have gone north of $350,000. But Sarah's family wept in silence, except to say they were satisfied with the guilty verdict. "We've been in touch with them regularly," Hutzel says. "It's been very difficult to wait so long to put this behind them."

The case grabbed Cincinnati with both hands and held on, splitting families, friends, co-workers and observers into two camps: one insists Ryan's innocent; the other is sure he's guilty.

Diss still votes guilty. "I don't in any way believe that man didn't love his wife. I think he just did it in anger. They had a spat that got out of hand. Maybe he just meant to scare her," he says. "Most who have opinions weren't at the trial and didn't hear the testimony."

He says many things convinced the jury. "We really got into the nuts and bolts, especially the 911 tapes. When you listen to it, the timing, his story, it was ridiculous. It was orchestrated."

Widmer told the 911 operator he was pulling her from the tub just moments before sirens arrived in the background. But paramedics found her body dry. Only her hair was damp.

Diss wonders: "Why in the world would you leave your wife in the tub? That's weird. You get her out right now. He had to reach around her head to let the water out."

When the 911 dispatcher told him to take her out, Diss says, "He set the phone down and it was dead quiet, not a squeak from the tub, nothing. And then he said he was doing CPR, but you could tell he was just blowing into the phone."

And the handprints: small "” the size of Sarah's hands "” making a sliding smear down the backside of the tub. "I think he grabbed her by the back of the neck and shoved her head under," Diss says. "That's why there were no marks on him. She was trying as hard as she could to push herself back out of the water."

Defense experts said Sarah drowned from an undiagnosed, undetectable seizure. They argued that she had headaches and fell asleep often. They raised semi-reasonable doubts.

But prosecutors piled up the evidence: Carpet stains showed the body had been moved; it was almost impossible for 5-foot-1-inch Sarah to drown in a tub that was only 4 feet 4 inches long; an autopsy showed bruises on the back and sides of her neck; and her body was too dry to be pulled from the tub when Ryan claimed.

Ironically, that sabotaged the verdict when jurors timed how long it took to dry after a shower, and told other jurors.

"Our evidence will be the same this time," Hutzel says. "The only thing that was somewhat surprising was that they (jurors) did not think the drying time was that important. They were very interested in the 911 tapes."

No motive was presented in the first trial. But afterward, Hutzel said Ryan browsed porn sites for adult swingers, and may have been confronted by Sarah. "I wouldn't exactly use the word motive, but precipitator, possibly."

"In domestic cases, there often isn't what you think of as a motive. It could be something like 'I'm tired of you leaving your underwear on the floor,'" she says.

I sat through random days of the trial last spring. At first, I was a coin on edge "” until I saw those smeared handprints. They told of a struggle that August evening in 2008: Sarah pushing frantically against the back of the tub as Ryan held her under.

Nobody knows what was going on in that house that night except Ryan. But the evidence says he's guilty.â–