“The time is now right for me to explain to the public why I made the suicide ruling, and why I do not believe it would be proper to change that ruling to 'accident.'” Wukie wrote in the statement he gave the News-Messenger.
Jacob Limberios was accidentally killed March 2, 2012. In mid-March 2012, Wukie ruled the cause of death this way: “Suicide. Gunshot wound to the head. Deceased shot self in head, may not have realized the gun was loaded.”
Wukie declined to make any public statements after that until he was interviewed by a state agent in October 2013. He told the agent then he wrote the cause of death that way “out of compassion” for Jacob's mother, to give her a “question” about her son's intent to kill himself.
But there wasn't ever any question about whether Jacob Limberios intended to kill himself, Wukie said on Monday, because it doesn't matter.
“Much of the confusion about this case stems from the false belief that suicide always means the decedent 'intended' to take his life. There is no universally accepted definition of 'suicide' within the medical and legal community,” Wukie wrote in the statement he gave the News-Messenger.
Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist, is not confused in the same way Wukie appears to be.
“Suicide is the intentional taking of one's life as defined in medical and general dictionaries, and in the practice of forensic pathology,” Baden wrote in a recent affidavit urging the death certificate be corrected.
Baden, a famed forensic pathologist and former New York medical examiner, provided expertise in forensic pathology and reviewed the autopsy reports and other evidence for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's state investigation of Jacob's death.
“Jacob Limberios died as a result of an accidental gun discharge,” Baden wrote in the sworn affidavit. “The manner of death on his death certificate should be changed to reflect this.”
The dictionary defines the word “suicide” this way: “The action of killing oneself intentionally.”
After a five-month investigation and a two-week grand jury proceeding, DeWine determined Jake's death was an accident. The AG also suggested the death certificate be corrected.
Wukie, who is not a forensic pathologist, said he culled his information from the various reports he's reviewed. He also said there was no value in him being present for the original investigation to succeed.
“I did not personally go to the scene of the shooting,” he said. “In this case, my presence would have added nothing.”
He has declined to say why he could not go to the scene when he was called by Sheriff Kyle Overmyer and deputies March 2, 2012.
In his statement released this week, Wukie cited some information from witness statements he'd read but did not cite other information that conflicted with his ruling or his statement about it.
He also did not address the destruction of evidence that occurred during the initial investigation by Sandusky County sheriff's deputies, or other missteps later documented by the AG's investigation, including Wukie's failure to order an autopsy.
He previously stated that Baden was “not well-liked” in the medical community and was "bosom buddies" with Dr. Cyril Wecht, another famed forensic pathologist who disagrees with Wukie, according to documents from the AG's investigation.
The Register asked David P. Corey, executive director of the Ohio Coroners Association, for a review of Wukie's ruling and his statement to determine if the association supports his position.
State Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba, has conferred with the association on a legislative proposal called “Jake's Law,” that would more clearly dictate when a county coroner should order an autopsy.