An attorney representing one of the three Ohio men accused of beating 17-year-old Ethan Liming to death is questioning the series of events that preceded and followed the fatal fight earlier this month.
Donovon Jones, 21, DeShawn Stafford Jr., 20, and Tyler Stafford, 19, remain behind bars in Summit County Jail, where they are being held on $1 million bond on charges related to Liming’s June 2 death. Just days after police documents obtained by Fox News Digital described how the Staffords “took Liming’s car and drove it to the other end of the lot” when Liming’s friends tried to take him to the hospital, one of the men’s attorneys is casting doubt upon the pair’s intentions when moving the vehicle.
Jonathan Sinn, who represents DeShawn “Shawn” Stafford, conceded that the suspects did take away the water bead gun and the car during the night’s events.
But they were not moving the car to prevent Liming from getting to the hospital, Sinn said. Instead, they did so to keep Liming and his friends on the scene until police arrived, Sinn said – despite that his client and the other suspects also allegedly fled.
“My understanding is it wasn’t moved in an effort to try and prevent anyone from getting help,” Sinn said. “It was more of a situation of, ‘You guys are going to stay here. You guys are gonna stay here until the cops come, you’re going to have to explain the situation.’ So they didn’t want the other boys taking off because they really felt they were in the right.”
“Our family is confident that when the facts of the case are presented in court, Ethan will get justice.”
Police arrived at the scene that night to find “nobody was on scene,” Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett told reporters.
Sinn noted that he has received the narrative of events from Stafford’s family. Earlier this week, he told the court Shawn Stafford was trying to defend himself after Shawn, his brother and his cousin saw “a car-load of teenagers … with, what at the time seemed to be a fully automatic firearm.”
The firearm in question was an orange and white SPLATRBALL water bead gun, police said.
Liming was an honors student at a public school in Akron, where he achieved a 4.03 GPA and played baseball and football, his father told Fox News Digital. He aspired to become a lawyer.
Liming’s father, Bill Liming, said in a statement on Tuesday that his family “is confident that when the facts of the case are presented in court, Ethan will get justice.”
“People are going to say what they are going to say,” he added.
Jones and the DeShawn and Tyler Stafford were each charged with murder and felonious assault, records show. Authorities also charged Jones with disrupting public service.
Each pleaded not guilty during Monday’s arraignment.
Sinn said none of the three men would be able to make bail, and added that his client had never met or spoken with Liming prior to June 2. He said his client was not injured by the water bead gun, but “had his head split open” during the fight.
Asked why his client did not turn himself in or go to the police sooner, he said Shawn was “working with family to try and obtain counsel. He wanted to go with a lawyer.”
“My heart goes out to Ethan’s family,” Sinn said. “But none of us know what happened that night. None of us were there. We’re going to have to let the court system play out.”
Liming, 17, died after suffering blunt force trauma to his head on the night of June 2. Police said Liming was in a vehicle with friends as the group was “riding around the surrounding area shooting a SPLATRBALL Water Bead Blaster at objects and possibly unsuspecting people.”
The group then pulled into the Promise School, a property that is supported in part by The Lebron James Family Foundation, and made its way toward the basketball court.
“The teens then appeared to have targeted or approached the subjects who were on the court and fired the gel soft gun at them,” police said. “The collective actions of the teens in the car appear to have unfortunately provoked the altercation.”
At least two of the people who were in the car with Liming exited the vehicle and fired the water bead gun at the crowd on the basketball court, cops said. They then allegedly ran back to the car, where both groups converged, and a fight broke out.
Meanwhile, affidavits related to the suspects’ arrests describe in sum and substance how the men were involved “in an altercation with Liming” and his three friends. They allegedly “punched” and “assaulted” each of the four victims, and “beat Liming until he was unconscious.” They each “then beat him more” while “he was unconscious on the ground,” the affidavit states.
READ PORTIONS OF THE AFFIDAVITS HERE:
The affidavit further alleges that each of the boys then repeatedly “stomped and kicked Liming” in his head.
Jones then allegedly took Liming’s friend’s cell phone as he tried to call 911. Meanwhile, Tyler and DeShawn Stafford “took Liming’s car and drove it to the other end of the lot” when Liming’s friends tried to take him to the hospital, the affidavit states.
Liming was unresponsive by the time police arrived at the scene, authorities said.
The Akron Police Department did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for an interview regarding the case.