By Brooke Mallory
2:07 PM – Tuesday, September 26, 2023
A Summit County jury in Ohio found two men “not guilty” of involuntary manslaughter in the 2022 murder of 17-year-old Ethan Liming at LeBron James’ “I Promise” school in Akron.
LeBron established the public elementary school in Akron, Ohio, as a “support system for families and kids in need.”
On June 2nd, 2022, Deshawn Stafford Jr., 20, and Tyler Stafford, 19, were present at the scene when Liming received a deadly blow to the head, according to Cleveland.com.
The verdict was announced on Monday by the Summit County jury and involved two counts of involuntary manslaughter that were brought against Deshawn and Tyler Stafford.
The jury found the Stafford brothers “not guilty” with regard to the second count but could not reach a conviction on the first count.
Additionally, Deshawn and Tyler were accused of assault and severe assault.
Liming was involved in the altercation with Deshawn, Tyler, and Donovon Jones in 2022 after driving by LeBron’s school and reportedly firing a pellet gun in the same vicinity as the three men.
After firing the water bead pellets, the trio confronted Liming and his posse. According to police testimony in the case, Liming, who was driving with a number of friends during the incident, had been smoking marijuana and “pranking” onlookers with the pellet gun.
The first of the three suspects, Deshawn Stafford, reportedly started a conversation with Liming before being joined by his brother Tyler and cousin Donovon Jones.
Liming’s fatal injuries were determined to have been caused by blunt trauma to the head, which is thought to have happened when Deshawn punched Liming, forcing him to fall to the ground and strike his head.
The autopsy also revealed that Liming had suffered a broken neck and had a “shoe imprint in his chest wall” when he died.
“The family has gone through something that no one should ever have to deal with — the emotions tied to this, the loss of a child. We respect their grieving,” said Brad Gessner, the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office chief counsel. “There’s nothing that can be done to bring their child back. This is something that, in better circumstances, would have never happened.”
Deshawn, Tyler, and Donovon also stole Liming’s car from the scene after his fall.
However, the three men claimed that they acted in self-defense when Liming and his friends fired a pellet pistol around them minutes earlier.
Deshawn Stafford claimed in court that he only “moved the car to prevent Liming’s pals from running away as the cops approached.” In the end, Stafford, his brother, and their cousin fled the scene in the car.
“Under Ohio law, a person is allowed to use force in self-defense or in defense of another. You’re allowed to do that,” said defense attorney Jon Sinn. “You don’t have to back up from a fight… He met a punch with a punch. These boys were not looking for trouble. Trouble came looking for them.”
No report related to Ethan Liming made any mention of what transpired in court involving their cousin, Donovon Jones, who was also at the scene.
“I naively believed that once the people who murdered my son were caught that the justice system would simply handle things. We’ve said all along we were confident when the facts of the case were presented that Ethan would receive justice,” said Liming’s father, Bill Liming.