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Lawsuit’s end still not in sight

Jessica Cuffman • Dec 12, 2013 at 5:30 PM

A resolution to the Limberios’ lawsuit remains on hold, after attorneys met with the judge behind closed doors for more than an hour Wednesday afternoon.

Limberios’ parents, Mike and Shannon Limberios, first filed the lawsuit to compel Sandusky County coroner John Wukie to change his ruling on their son’s death from “suicide” to “accident,” and to force officials to re-open the criminal investigation into his March 2, 2012, death.

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In July, visiting Judge Charles Wittenburg froze proceedings in the civil suit, placing it at a standstill for four months as Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine completed his office’s criminal probe into the death of 19-year-old Jacob Limberios and presented their findings to a grand jury.

Last month, the attorney general and the grand jury both found, ultimately, that Limberios’ accidentally shot himself in the head when he was at a friend’s York Township home, and none of the other three witnesses who were there were responsible for his death.

But Wukie has no plans to change his original ruling, his attorney Dean Henry said Wednesday.

“He has not had an opportunity to review the reports from the attorney general,” Henry said. “His investigation is still very much open”

While Wukie does have the power to change the ruling, that’s not to say that after he reviews the reports, he will.

“I haven’t seen anything from the attorney general’s report that suggests anything in error from his original conclusion” Henry said.

Wukie ruled Limberios’ death a suicide without visiting the scene of the shooting the night he was killed, relying instead on information provided by Sandusky County deputies. He also did not send Limberios’ body for an autopsy.

Attorney Dan McGookey, representing the Limberios, said it’s “cruelly ironic” that an elected official who had little to do with the case maintains the power to stand by the suicide ruling.

McGookey cited the attorney general’s investigation, which found Limberios’ .357 Magnum that fired the shot that killed him malfunctioned three out of every 10 times it was fired, and statements from Limberios’ friends and family that he was not suicidal and was excited to see other friends who were to visit the York Township home that night.

“Here is a man who did nothing,” McGookey said, not the day of the shooting or in any days that followed, until the Limberios family filed the lawsuit against him.

“He wants to all of a sudden delve in to study the findings of the attorney general,” McGookey said. “It’s just another dagger to the heart of the Limberios family. They feel there’s no end to this”

Limberios’ family wants the death certificate changed so his legacy is properly recorded for his 5-year-old daughter, Ella, McGookey said.

Attorneys are set for a telephone conference with Wittenburg Dec. 20 to discuss outstanding motions from the attorney general’s office on how the gun should be preserved, from McGookey asking the judge to rule on the case without a trial, and setting dates for jury trial.

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