Defendants in the beating death of 17-year-old Ethan Liming have managed to avoid manslaughter charges, a jury concluded on Monday.
Tyler Stafford, 20, and his brother, Deshawn Stafford Jr., 21, were acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in connection with Liming’s death.
Deshawn was convicted on charges of aggravated assault and assault, and a mistrial was declared on a first-degree count of involuntary manslaughter. Tyler was convicted of assault and acquitted of involuntary manslaughter.
On June 2, 2022, Liming was attacked near the I PROMISE School basketball courts in Akron, Ohio, an institution affiliated with NBA star and activist LeBron James.
Liming and his friends played with water guns before the altercation and subsequent death.
The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Liming’s death resulted from blunt force trauma to the head, classifying it as a homicide.
Last year, Ethan’s father, Bill Liming, reported that his son attempted to de-escalate a situation before being fatally beaten. He shared that his son’s two friends, who are black, tried to rescue Ethan while he was still alive but were pursued and attacked by the assailants, who then “finished my son off,” as reported by News 5 Cleveland.
“Teenagers were being teenagers, and I don’t want to say too much about the investigation,” Mr. Liming told the news outlet. He shared that some of Ethan’s friends were playing around in the parking lot, which upset some people, leading them to run back to Ethan’s car, where he and another friend were.
Ethan, believing it was still all in good fun, exited the car, attempting to calm everyone down, expressing that it was just a joke. However, his attempts to diffuse the situation were met with violence.
“One individual attacked him,” he recounted. Despite Ethan’s efforts to explain it was a joke, another individual struck him in the head. “He was fighting back for his life,” Mr. Liming emphasized, clarifying that Ethan did not just fall after a single punch; he was fighting for his life before a third person came and overwhelmed him.
Initially, the Stafford brothers were charged with murder. However, a grand jury in Summit County later downgraded the charges.
Another individual, Donovon Jones, 22, was arrested last year for his involvement in the death. He previously pleaded no contest to two counts of misdemeanor assault and received a suspended 180-day sentence, as reported by WKWC.