Jacob's family drops lawsuit

Sandusky County coroner John Wukie won't change suicide ruling despite evidence death was accidental
Jessica Cuffman
Jan 5, 2014

The Limberios family dropped its lawsuit against Sandusky County coroner John Wukie on Friday, a month after Wukie refused to change the ruling on their son’s death certificate from suicide to accidental to reflect the findings of a state investigation.

But they’re not surrendering, family attorney Dan McGookey said.

”Enough’s enough,” McGookey said. “The lawsuit was a productive thing, but this search for the truth is definitely not over.”

Jacob Limberios, 19, was killed by a single gunshot to the head on March 2, 2012.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine determined in November after a five-month state investigation that Limberios’ death was an accident. But Wukie, who never conducted an investigation, is sticking with his March 2012 ruling: “Suicide. Gunshot wound to head. Deceased shot self in head, may not have realized the gun was loaded”

Wukie’s statement on the death certificate has been described in Register news articles as an “accidental suicide” ruling.

It’s not clear how, or whether, Wukie determined Limberios intentionally shot himself. He said he relied on Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer’s assessment, but deputies at the scene — as DeWine did later
   — stated there was no evidence it was a suicide.

The initial investigation by Overmyer was botched, however, after blood evidence and other evidence was destroyed. The bullet that killed Limberios was left lodged in a ceiling at the home and the results of lie detector tests given to two of the three witnesses during the initial investigation were discredited.   

Overmyer refused to answer the family’s questions about the investigation’s missteps and Wukie refused to order an autopsy or return their phone calls. He also refused to re-open the investigation until after the family filed the lawsuit in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court, and then later ordered a second exhumation and autopsy after the family already had obtained a private autopsy.

The county hired Tiffin attorney Dean Henry to defend Wukie in the lawsuit and then later appointed him to conduct the criminal investigation, fighting the family’s efforts for an independent investigation at every step. Henry was later fired as criminal prosecutor by a visiting judge who cited the obvious conflicts he had serving in the dual roles.

DeWine was appointed to finish the investigation.

Henry did not respond to an email inquiry late Friday. He has generally declined comment to the Register, contending its coverage has been biased and unfair to local public officials.

The lawsuit served its purpose, McGookey said. It forced the state investigation and that investigation showed clearly that Jake’s death was an accident, he said.

“Did we dismiss the case? Yes. But if we had never filed that case, the attorney general never would have been involved,” he said.

From that investigation, additional information was uncovered about the night Jacob died, including knowledge of a gun defect that showed Jacob’s .357 Magnum misfired sometimes during testing.

While his parents aren’t satisfied with the findings of DeWine’s investigation, it was a step in the right direction, McGookey said.

“Mike and Shannon Limberios and their family have not given up their search for the truth,” he said. “We feel that all of the facts have still not come out, and I want the public to know that the attorney general unequivocally said, several times over in his 20-page statement, that this was a terrible, tragic accident.”

Comments

Babo

No, I'm just a concerned taxpayer sick and tired of the staggering and unaccountable misconduct in area law enforcement agencies such as the Sandusky County Sheriff and Prosecutor's Office.

Federal Civil Rights and Official Misconduct investigations are the way to bring change to a dysfunctional system that benefits everybody.

Sam

What section of the Federal Civil Rights statue would apply? The governor is not going to get involved after the attorney general has already investigated and a grand jury found no evidence of misconduct. Time for the family to move on and heal. Attorney McGookey clearly looked at the facts and saw minimum chance of prevailing and wanted to avoid paying the court costs if he lost. Suggest if the family want to pursue any damage against the gun manufacturer to hire an attorney with expertise in that area. That litigation might not prevail if the manufacturer raises the issue that the victims own actions were more than fifty per cent of the tortious conduct and is attributable to the victim towards his own death and or he had reckless disregard for his own safety.

Babo

1) Federal Civil Rights Section: Pattern and practice of law enforcement misconduct involving death cases and the Lucas County Coroner's office. Title 42, U.S.C., Section 14141 makes it unlawful for state or local law enforcement agencies to allow officers to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or U.S. laws. There are also potential criminal and civil violations of civil rights under color of law. 42 USC 1983
2) The AG did not investigate law enforcement misconduct and the Grand Jury was never presented with the question of official misconduct. The Governor is empowered pursuant to ORC Section 3.07 et seq to undertake official misconduct investigations of the She
riff and Prosecutor in a county and remove them from office. I think in an upcoming Gubernatorial election year that a Republican Governor would be very interested in this case and the alleged malfeasance of two Democratic Office holders.

3. Attorney McGookey abandoned his ill conceived case asking the Court to force the Coroner to change his death ruling because as presented I agree it was a loser. That doesn't mean that a request for an Inquest (which should have been done in the first place) coming from a Physician attorney would necessarily fall on deaf ears. I think Dr. Wukie is smart enough to realize he got caught up with incompetent LE and disingenuous lawyers protecting their system. Dr. Wukie was done a huge disservice by having Dean Henry forced upon him as his attorney.

4. I didn't suggest suing the gun manufacturer. I do think there may be a case involving the pharmaceutical manufacturer of the drugs he was prescribed. But again, that would require an attorney with greater expertise than McGookey.

Sam

1.)Who's civil rights were violated, and how?

2.)Read the entire section of the AG report on his complete investigation and the grand jury, the conduct of the officials were addressed. When was the last time the governor invoked section 3.07 ORC?

3.) You might want to check ORC section 311.19 the coroner has final word on the cause of death unless overturned by the court of common pleas which the family has withdrawn.. Your request of an inquest is not part of Ohio law.

4.) As for the drugs who prescribed them, and were they being used as prescribed?

Babo

Let's agree to disagree on these issues.

Nor'easter

From the Medical Examiners' and Coroners' Handbook on Death Registration and Fetal Death Reporting 2013 Edition

Pages 21 & 22:

"One of the more difficult tasks of the medical examiner or coroner is to determine whether a death is an accident or the result of an intent to end life. The medical examiner or coroner must use all information available to make a determination about the death. This may include information from his or her own investigation, police reports, staff investigations, and dis cussions with the family and friends of the decedent.

Determining a suicide
+ There is evidence that death was self-inflicted. Pathological (autopsy), toxicological, investigatory, and psychological evidence, and state ments of the decedent or witnesses, may be used for this determina tion.
+ There is evidence (explicit and/or implicit) that at the time of injury the decedent intended to kill self or wished to die and that the decedent understood the probable consequences of his or her actions.
+ Explicit verbal or nonverbal expression of intent to kill self
+ Implicit or indirect evidence of intent to die, such as the following:

21

+ Expression of hopelessness
+ Effort to procure or learn about means of death or rehearse fatal behavior
+ Preparations for death, inappropriate to or unexpected in the context of the decedent’s life
+ Expression of farewell or desire to die, or acknowledgment of impending death
+ Precautions to avoid rescue
+ Evidence that decedent recognized high potential lethality of means of death
+ Previous suicide attempt
+ Previous suicide threat
+ Stressful events or significant losses (actual or threatened)
+ Serious depression or mental disorder (10,11) "

There is clearly 2 sides to this story. Investigative reporting instead of media sensationalism would be much appreciated.

Pages