Questions remain for the family of Jacob Limberios 12 days after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the findings of his four-month investigation into the 19-year-old's death in March 2012.
“The gaps in the logic as to what happened to Jake endorsed in the Attorney General’s statement are indeed wide by any objective analysis,” according to a statement by Mike and Shannon Limberios at the Justice for Jake & Ella Facebook page.
The AG's office determined Jake shot himself accidentally and a defect in the weapon he was holding — a hair trigger — likely contributed to that accident.
The family asked for the assistance of the National Rifle Association and other groups with gun experts to review the determination the gun that killed Jake was defective. They asked DeWine to keep the weapon secure, for further testing.
Sheriff Kyle Overmyer “previously indicated an intention to destroy the gun,” according to the statement. “We are simply asking the Attorney General to retain (it), in its current condition so that all interested parties, including the gun manufacturer and distributor can develop a joint plan for its inspection and testing.”
DeWine referred to a “design defect” in the gun manufacture three times during an hour-long news conference Nov. 20 at the Sandusky County courthouse. His spokesman, Dan Tierney, later appeared to back away from that, telling the Fremont News Messenger the problem was “limited to Jake's gun.”
The family did not suggest the gun is not defective but said the finding still fails to adequately explain the bullet's trajectory and the lack of fracturing in the skull a close-range shot would have caused.
“A contact wound by a .357 Magnum most likely would have torn away a significant portion of Jake’s skull.”
The proximity of the gun near his legs in photographs of Jake's body taken at the scene also aren't explained.
“The completely unnatural position the Attorney General has Jake holding the gun, and the force upon discharge, the gun itself would have flown across the room as Jake had no ability to counteract the tremendous recoil of the weapon,” according to the family's statement. “In other words, the gun would not have ended up anywhere near Jake’s body.”
The AG's office has told the family it was required by law to return the weapon to the reporting agency — Sandusky County sheriff's office — which investigated the incident beginning the night it occurred.
Sheriff Overmyer told the family previously the gun would be destroyed when the investigation was finished but that shouldn't happen, according to the family and its supporters.
“The first and most important next step (is to) fully explore the dangerous characteristics of Jake’s gun,” the Facebook post at Justice for Jake & Ella states. “We intend to aggressively get the questions regarding whether Jake’s gun was defective, if so, how, and whether that defect poses a risk to others, answered in an unbiased way.
“We ask the Attorney General to retain the gun in his custody so that a complete and objective investigation into that issue can be completed. We hope that investigation will include the gun manufacturer and distributor. We also will be asking for all people and groups interested in gun safety, whether pro- or anti-gun, to lend any assistance they can to this effort.”
The Facebook post specifically asks the National Rifle Association to offer “its experts in the area of gun design, manufacturer and safety.”
No budge on ruling
Sandusky County coroner John Wukie hasn't changed the death certificate he signed in March 2012, ruling Jacob Limberios' death an accidental suicide.
Wukie's decisions the night Limberios was killed and his subsequent refusal to revisit the cause he wrote on the death certificate triggered investigations that remain unresolved more than 20 months later.
Although the Ohio Attorney General's office determined Jake's death was accidental, Wukie told a local newspaper a suicide can be an accident.
“How long does this family have to wait,” family attorney Dan McGookey asked.
A statement at the Justice for Jake & Ella page went further.
“We call on him to immediately change his position, and his ruling on Jake’s death certificate to reflect such fact. Our family has suffered long enough from his untenable position.
“We further intend to investigate why a significant amount of evidence was destroyed by the investigating authorities in the hours following Jake’s death, and why virtually every standard protocol for death scene investigation was ignored. We feel with the answers to these questions will come the answer as to what happened to Jake.”