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Thu. 10:45 a.m.: Defendant says death struggle took just seconds

YOUNGSTOWN — Francis “Jerry” Rydarowicz testified this morning that his wife initiated the attack at a Coitsville motel, stabbing him in the neck from behind.

The defendant told jurors he got the knife away from her and stabbed her in the back as she turned away.

He said he feared for his life after he saw his bloody neck in the mirror. The whole struggle took seconds, Rydarowicz said.

Jurors in the ongoing Mahoning County Common Pleas Court case spent the day Wednesday listening to dozens of transcripts of text messages and reports from forensic experts in the aggravated murder trial of Rydarowicz.

He is accused of stabbing his estranged wife to death two summers ago.

Rydarowicz, 50, of Hubbard, is charged with aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and domestic violence. He is accused of killing his wife, Katherine, 41, on June 22, 2019, at the Kings Motel off U.S. Route 422. She was found stabbed to death on the driveway outside the motel. The defendant also had stab wounds to the neck and left wrist.

Under cross examination, he denied that he had a plan to kill Katherine and then himself.

Judge Anthony Donofrio ruled that text messages extracted from the defendantás cellphone would be admissible as evidence.

Despite numerous objections from defense attorney John Juhasz, BCI forensic expert Joann Gibb spent more than two hours on the stand reading more than 125 transcripts of texts between Rydarowicz and his two sisters and between the estranged couple.

One text sent June 9 by the defendant made to a sister stated: “I’m out of jail, and I’m ready to bash the (expletive) out of her.”

The texts between Rydarowicz and his wife depicted a love-hate relationship in texts made between June 7, 2019 — shortly after Jerry Rydarowicz was released from prison on a domestic violence charge — and the day of the stabbing.

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