Witnesses to testify in Ohio AG probe

DeWine plans to impanel grand jury in 19-year-old’s March 2012 killing.
Sandusky Register Staff
Oct 11, 2013
It won’t be at the Hollywood studios of the “Dr. Phil” program, but witnesses to the killing of Jacob Limberios will likely be giving testimony in front of a live audience again, and soon.

“We’re planning on taking this matter to a grand jury, probably the first week of November,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told the Register.

DeWine said “multiple witnesses” would be brought in to testify during the grand jury proceedings.

“We’re talking to anybody who has any potential relevant information about the case,” DeWine said. “We anticipate not only giving a report to a grand jury of what we have found, we anticipate summoning people into a grand jury so that the grand jury will have the benefit of live testimony.”    

Two witnesses — Brittany Bowers and Will Lewis — were in the York Township home in March 2012 when Jacob was killed. They both were flown to California last month by the “Dr. Phil” program, where they taped a segment of the nationally syndicated talk show and spoke extensively about what they remembered about that night.

A third witness in the home, Evan Neidler, was not asked to appear on the program, Neidler’s attorney, Mark Stuckey, said when contacted on Thursday.

All three witnesses told Sandusky County deputies the night he was killed that Jacob shot himself. They continued to state this during subsequent local investigations in the 15 months that followed, until a judge removed Sandusky County from the investigation in late May 2013, citing conflicts of interest in the way officials were conducting the probe.

Bowers and Neidler have since been interviewed by investigators from the Ohio Attorney General’s office, the entity the judge appointed to take over the investigation in June 2013.

Dan McGookey, an attorney representing the Limberios family, said it appears the AG’s investigators have not interviewed Lewis, however, because they indicated to him that Lewis had affirmed his Fifth Amendment Constitutional right against self-incrimination.

Another Sandusky attorney, Troy Wisehart, told the Register in July that he represented Lewis, and he had advised Lewis to plead the Fifth Amendment. There was never any interview request from the AG’s investigators, nor any court proceedings where investigators requested this, Wisehart said.

When contacted Thursday, Wisehart said he no longer represents Lewis.

Bowers and Neidler did not return phone calls from the Register seeking comment. Lewis initially took the call but then abruptly hung up. He also did not reply to a message left later on his cell phone voicemail.

McGookey contends Lewis surrendered his right against self-incrimination when he agreed to talk with Dr. Phil about the events of March 2, 2012.

“You can’t refuse to testify and then appear on a national talk show and talk extensively about what you refuse to talk with investigators about,” McGookey said.

Two other witnesses have since come forward, according to McGookey, and provided information that Bowers told each of them that Jake did not shoot himself. It’s unclear if the AG’s investigators interviewed those two witnesses.

Mike and Shannon Limberios, Jacob’s parents, also were guests on the “Dr. Phil” program with Bowers and Lewis. Mike Limberios said Dr. Phil asked Bowers and Lewis to take lie detector tests, and they agreed.

“We just want to know what happened,” Mike said Thursday. “Sandusky County sheriff’s deputies never pressed Brittany or Will for answers. And they never did interview Evan again. All they did was write down the story they were telling. They never asked anything about all the inconsistencies in their stories. Hopefully the hard questions will be asked and answered for the grand jury.”

Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer acknowledged in April that blood evidence was destroyed the night Jacob was killed, suggesting that one of the witnesses threw out blood-spattered clothing and blood-spattered shoes in the presence of a deputy.

Within hours of Jacob’s death, deputies determined he had committed suicide, but it might have been accidental. They did not call Sandusky County coroner John Wukie to the scene, and they did not retrieve the bullet that killed Jacob. The bullet had become lodged in the ceiling after it entered and then exited Jacob’s head.

DeWine declined to discuss whether evidence was destroyed or whether that would constitute a crime.

Wukie never went to the home or examined Jacob’s body or other physical evidence, and he refused to order an autopsy until May 2013, after the family had already commissioned a private autopsy that concluded Jacob was — beyond any reasonable doubt — the victim of a homicide.

Tiffin attorney Dean Henry, who at the time was acting as both a special prosecutor for the criminal investigation and the defense attorney for Wukie and the county in a lawsuit brought by the family seeking a competent cause of death ruling, ordered the second exhumation and autopsy.

Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser, who conducted the second autopsy, stated her findings were “not inconsistent” with Wukie’s ruling. She did not address the fact Wukie had no information to justify his ruling, given that he was not part of the investigation.

An air date for the “Dr. Phil” program has yet to be scheduled. The Register plans to show the program at sanduskyregister.com when it broadcasts.

DeWine said residents of Sandusky County who serve on the grand jury will make a final determination after all the information and evidence is presented.

“Judge us by what comes out in the end,” DeWine said. “Look to see whether you think we’ve brought enough people into a grand jury.”

Comments

sandusky2012

lets put them coppers and judges on the stand.... lets not froget about kimmet the froggy

Carlos Danger

I recently visited the National Archives in Washington DC, and if you look real close at the text of the Bill of Rights that is on display, you can actually see where it says: "No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, unless he appears on the Dr. Phil Show."

MiddleRight

As a guy with a catchy, politically motivated moniker on here, I would have thought you knew more about the law. You don't get to occassionally plead the fifth when it's convenient for you, but then accept media requests and interviews. If you plead the fifth, that means you shut up and go away. So, we ask you to please plead the fifth.

sash

Actually, you can. The 5th Amendment isn't a one shot deal where if you waive your right once you can't invoke it in the future. If you are being questioned by the police and choose to waive your 5th Amendment right and answer their questions, you can change your mind at any time and plead the 5th. It doesn't matter if you've spoken for 2 minutes or 20 hours, you can change your mind and plead the 5th. Selective invocation isn't anything new and the courts have consistantly upheld the right, so I'm not sure why McGookey is bringing up Dr. Phil. I don't even think the Dr. Phil discussion would count as a waiver of rights, because he has no authority or standing in a criminal investigation.

Carlos Danger

MiddleRight, you must have gone to the same law school as Mr. McGookey - not sure what planet that was on though. By the way, if compelled to testify, maybe the witness can now assert a Doctor-Patient privilege, or should I say a Dr. Phil-Patient privilege.

Jakes Dad

Carlos, you might be right about that display. I think it might be next to Ron White's display "I had the right to remain silent...I just didn't have the ability".

Commenter

Finally.

Commenter

Carlos, he can't go talk about it on a National TV Show And refuse to talk to cops. As much as is wrong with this case, it's the absolute right thing to do. (By the AG to question the witnesses)
I don't always agree with the Register's reporting of this case and not mentioning things that may not be in their favor, their persistence help bring this attention. And I hope for the families sake, they get some resolution and peace.

skydog44870

If you want a fair and impartial Grand Jury then you better move it out of Sandusky County. I would have to hate to say I told you so, Again.

2Timothy1-7

With special prosecutors involved there should be a special grand jury. However, the special grand jury will be composed of Sandusky County citizens, just not the same citizens sitting on the regular grand jury that hears cases presented by the County prosecutor. The special grand jury is something to monitor to ensure there is no potential influence/overlap with the regular grand jury.

I would expect that areas the special grand jury would inquire would be potential dereliction of duty or obstruction of justice by Sandusky LE, Prosecutor Stierwalt and Special Prosecutor Dean Henry as well as the Coroners offices. It would be great if the special grand jury exercised its full investigative powers and didn't limit itself to where the AG's office wants to go.

Also, the right to invoke the fifth amendment doesn't arise until one is in a court proceeding and testifying under oath. Lewis will be subpoened to testify before the grand jury. When he is before the grand jury he will have the right to invoke his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself. Any statements made on Dr. Phil could be used to impeach him. He cannot be compelled to testify unless granted immunity for a deal.

puddin95

I guess Dr. Phil could not do anything.

Stop It

If and when Nancy Grace gets involved, this will turn into a three ring beach fest circus from he!!.

gramafun

OMG

IXMNU

Im a little confused by this article. I think that Lewis' and Neidler name have been mixed up in the article. I thought that Neidler was the witness who was refusing to talk. Maybe I missed something somewhere along the way.

dart340h1973

You think DR Phil can solve this? These stupid cops can't secure a crime scene let alone solve the case. They just keep dragging the parents through this nightmare.

Detrain

Lewis refuses talk but can talk on dr Phil show. Neidler has kept silence from the beginning from what I am gathering. Sash if you plead the 5th and are advised not to talk to anyone but you go on dr phil and talk then you revoked your 5th amendment. So your statement might be right but he plead the 5th and was avised not to talk to anyone. I think some of you need to go do some law reading. Nancy grace three ring beach fest circus wrong. The three ring circus started when sandusky county did not do there job right that night.I think some of you are afraid of national attention cause it will expose corruption in Sandusky County and make sure no other family has to go through this again. Those that want no national attention must be blind to the corruption is going on in this country by elected officials.

Carlos Danger

"revoked your 5th amendment" just because you appear on Dr. Phil??? Maybe in the Bizarro World, but not in the U.S.

Detrain

better do your homework does revoke your 5th amendment when you talk to anybody when you were told not to by your lawyer

2Timothy1-7

You are mistaken..the Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate oneself only applies to pending legal actions and interactions with government authorities such as the police. I know you mean well but you are not helpful with posts that are not legally accurate.

Mr. Lewis has the right not to testify at the grand jury or to speak with government investigators. He can be forced to appear at the Grand Jury but not to testify if he invokes his 5th A right. His comments made to Dr. Phil can be used to impeach him or suggest he is not credible.

gramafun

So now does this mean the SR is friends with the AG's office again?

skydog44870

Well, well, well it certainly would appear as though “The Giver” has a personal stake in this. It also appears to me that “The Giver” may have inside information if not first hand information as to where the AG’s special prosecutor will be “steering” the Grand Jury. I find it intriguing that “The Giver” has all of the sudden pointed out to all of us that the Coroner has no duty to go to the scene and that not everything is considered evidence. And let’s not forget that the state may not consider the phone tapping charge but may leave it up to the Federal Grand Jury. All this sudden knowledge being brought up right before a grand jury convenes sounds very interesting to me.
Wasn’t it Overmyer’s own Detective O’Connell that stated “If I had to make an educated guess, the gun went off as (the witness) was playing around with it while Jacob was on the phone in close proximity of (the witness), which explains the blood splatter on the shoes. Wouldn’t those shoes then be valuable evidence? And if I’m not mistaken didn’t Detective O’Connell make a statement somewhere in those recordings that he admired Dr. Wecht. Something is starting to smell pretty stinky to me. Then again what do I know? Just my opinion!