Fremont man charged in wifeâ??s drug death pleads not guilty

Beth Risenburg, 31, died of a drug overdose on April 1, 2012.

After waiving extradition in Graham, N.C., the Fremont man charged with the drug overdose death of his wife returned to Sandusky County and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Friday.

Jason Risenburg, 37, pleaded not guilty to first degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and corrupting another with drugs in connection to the April 2012 death of Beth Spaulding-Risenburg.

"To be honest, my heart hurt for the young man I knew and I couldn't help but wonder how could he have done this to our beautiful girl? Why did he do this awful thing and put himself in the position he's in?" said Maureen Spaulding, mother of the slain woman.

The Sandusky County coroner ruled Spaulding-Risenburg's death a homicide after toxicology results revealed she had lethal levels of methadone in her system, a drug that Fremont police say was prescribed to her husband for back pain. Police also discovered that Spaulding-Risenburg had been hospitalized once before for consuming methadone, but the incident was not reported to authorities because Risenburg said he accidentally gave his wife the wrong medicine.

Risenburg was arrested in Graham, N.C. last month after a Sandusky County grand jury handed up an indictment charging him with Spaulding-Risenburg's murder. He waived extradition during a Feb. 22 hearing and returned to Ohio to face the charges against him.

Risenburg is being held in the Sandusky County jail on a $1 million bond. A pretrial date has not yet been determined.

"We had hoped to see some regret or shame or remorse over what he's done, if not that, then some emotion over Beth's death, but we saw none of those things," Spaulding wrote to WNWO. "It was a hurtful experience, but I want to thank my husband, James; my son, Daryl; and mother-in-law, Ruth, for the love and strength they gave me and each other."

"I thank all the Beffy angels who came to stand together and hold one another's hands. I am forever grateful to Detective Jason Kiddey for his hard work and patience with me and concern for my family. Det. Kiddey takes being Beth's voice as seriously as every mother would hope in this terrible situation. I also need to thank the prosecutor, Tom Stierwalt, for his hard work and for taking the time to answer our many questions," she wrote.