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DeWine taps top prosecutor

Register • Jun 30, 2013 at 6:27 AM

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Wednesday the best prosecutors and the most experienced detectives are taking over the investigation of the death of Jacob Limberios on March 2, 2012, and they'll start from scratch. 

"We've put our top people on this," DeWine said. 

Assistant attorney general Marianne Hemmeter is in charge.

"She's the lead prosecutor in the Steubenville case as well as a number of other cases," DeWine said.

Two high school football players were convicted on rape charges in April for an August assault on a teenager. Local police and school officials initially declined to investigate the allegations or press charges but moved forward after the incident became well-known in the community by way of a social media campaign.   

A month after the convictions DeWine impaneled a grand jury to investigate whether other laws were broken, including whether adults who are required to report crimes knew early on of the rape last August but didn't say anything. DeWine said the grand jury will meet again July 8.

Bill Schenck, a senior advisor to DeWine also will be assisting in the Limberios investigation as will Matt Donahue, associate assistant attorney general, and Mark Kollar, special agent supervisor with the AG's Bureau of Criminal Investigation. 

DeWine said the Limberios case is "highly unusual."

It's not normal "to walk into a case months and months after an incident," he said. "We were not at the scene. We did not conduct the initial investigations. That creates some problems." 

The AG's office "will do a thorough investigation," DeWine said, but "our job is not to critique the previous investigations, our purpose is to do the investigation."

Issues raised by the Limberios family, including whether court officials or others improperly met with witnesses, concerns about discarded evidence, the results of a second autopsy and other concerns will be reviewed as appropriate, DeWine said. 

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," DeWine said. 

Meanwhile, Limberios' family attorney Dan McGookey said Wednesday he wants to depose Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser. Beisser conducted the second autopsy on Jacob's body in May and said her findings were "not inconsistent" with Wukie's suicide ruling even though there is no evidence of a suicide. 

Beisser's autopsy conflicted with the previous autopsy findings, which determined Jacob had been the victim of a homicide.  

The Register has made a public records request to the Lucas County coroner's office for other autopsy reports of examinations done by Beisser and for her personnel file.   

Former Sandusky County prosecutor Dean Henry, who was fired by a newly appointed visiting judge on May 28 for conflicts of interest in serving as both the criminal prosecutor and the defense attorney in a civil action brought by the Limberios family, has not yet submitted a final invoice or expense report to the county. 

Henry billed about $8,500 for his work as special prosecutor, but he also continues to serve as defense counsel in the civil lawsuit. It's not clear how Henry differentiated the two roles on his invoice. 

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