The three young Ohio men accused of murdering high school junior Ethan Liming were ordered held on $1 million bond during their initial court appearance on Monday morning, as newly obtained court documents describe in further detail the events that led to the 17-year-old’s death.
Donovon Jones, 21, DeShawn Stafford Jr., 20, and Tyler Stafford, 19, each pleaded not guilty to charges related to Liming’s June 2 beating death. The men appeared separately and via video-conference from the Summit County Jail.
Each of the men was charged with murder and felonious assault, records show. Authorities also charged Jones with disrupting public service.
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 I 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. They then allegedly ran back to the car, where both groups converged, and a fight broke out.
New court documents obtained by Fox News Digital on Monday shed light on the series of events.
Affidavits related to the suspects’ arrests describe in sum and substance how each of 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.
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.
READ PORTIONS OF THE AFFIDAVITS HERE:
During Monday’s appearance, DeShawn Stafford Jr.’s attorney, Jonathan Sinn, told the court that his client, who goes by “Shawn,” was defending himself at the time of the alleged crimes.
“Shawn was up there playing basketball with his brother and his cousin,” Sinn said. “He is 5-foot-5, 130 pounds, and it was just the three of them on the court playing when a car-load of kids, a car-load of teenagers … pulled into the lot. At that point they opened their windows and opened fire with, what at the time seemed to be a fully automatic firearm.”
He called the weapon “a fully automatic paintball gun” that can be modified with the use of frozen ammunition.
“After these boys were sprayed with the firearm, then the boys from the other vehicle got out, chased them onto the court, assaulted them and a fight did ensue where my client is alleged to have defended himself,” Sinn went on.
He further argued that Liming “hit the cement” when he “allegedly got punched,” adding that “the injury from the cement may have been what caused the ultimate damage here.”
Sinn said his client has no prior record of felony crimes.
“These boys were on the basketball court, unarmed, doing what we want them to do, playing basketball when kids from outside the neighborhood came in in a vehicle, sprayed them with this crazy paintball gun,” he went on.
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.
He added that the teen’s friends “did everything they could” to try to save him.
“I was supposed to be taking Ethan to college visits on Monday. His first college visit,” Liming told Fox News Digital on Friday. “He wanted to become a lawyer, and he wanted to fight for people who weren’t able to fight for themselves. He would have been fighting for the same people who murdered him. He cared for everybody.”
He added: “He was a beautiful boy.”
Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and Greg Norman contributed to this report.