Ohio AG's team shows up lame

Matt Westerhold
Oct 5, 2013

State prosecutors Matt Donahue and Marianne Hemmeter are bobbing and weaving in a way that might make Sandusky County officials proud to be part of the team. 

The duo from Ohio AG Mike DeWine's office is charged with making a final determination what happened March 2, 2012, the night Jacob Limberios was killed. 

But do Donahue and Hemmeter really want to know? 

"They told us they were winding up their investigation and didn't intend to interview Will Lewis," attorney Dan McGookey said. "How can you finish an investigation without talking to a primary witness? That makes no sense." 

McGookey said the AG's office is avoiding the difficult questions and it appears it might be determined to button up the investigation as neatly as possible without addressing difficult questions that should be answered. 

Donahue suggested Lewis, who saw Jacob get killed inside the York Township home, had exercised his Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness or talk to investigators. They couldn't talk to Lewis, according to Donahue, because he refused to talk.

Except Lewis is talking — to Dr. Phil — and he and Brittany Bowers, who also was with Jacob when he was killed, both took fresh lie detector tests on the "Dr. Phil" program after they were flown to California to be guests on an upcoming installment of nationally syndicated talk program.

It's pretty lame that Donahue and BCI investigators can't talk to witnesses, but witnesses can talk to Dr. Phil. 

Click here to read past articles, watch news video and see photo galleries.

Donahue also can't document that Lewis reserved his right not to testify. His suggestion he did suggests Donahue and BCI were looking for a way to avoid it. There's no documentation that any of the witnesses have been interviewed — or more importantly, interrogated — at all.

An investigation, by nature, demands hard questions. In this case, with the AG and BCI, and with Sandusky County officials before them, nobody other than the family seems willing to ask any difficult questions or push for any plausible answers. 

The investigators seem content to allow evidence to be destroyed; let witnesses simply tell a story without questioning them; provide "testing" to support those stories; ignore any inconsistencies; and walk away saying "No harm, no foul. Yay for the home team."    

Lie detector tests the Ohio AG's office provided in June 2012, through the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, have been challenged as being bogus and providing false information to Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt's investigator, retired deputy Bill Kaiser, during his investigation.

Donahue and Hemmeter might be investigating BCI, and what occurred with its polygraph unit, but they refuse to confirm that. 

Ohio AG spokesman Dan Tierney refused to answer questions about the allegedly false test results BCI provided, suggesting it was part of the ongoing investigation. But Tierney refused to say whether the AG's office was concerned whether the BCI polygraph unit might be compromised and whether any corrective action would be taken if that's determined to have happened.  

Donahue and Hemmeter also have refused to say what, if any, blood evidence was destroyed after Sandusky County sheriff Kyle Overmyer and deputies started the investigation immediately after Jacob was killed. The Limberios family contends shoes and other blood-spattered clothing and physical evidence was discarded. 

Supporters of the Limberios family have documented those concerns, and others, at "Justice for Jake & Ella," a Facebook page they created that has garnered more than 10,000 fans who follow the updates posted at the site. Transcripts, taped interviews with witnesses and other documentation is posted at the page.

Ella is Jacob's 4-year-old daughter. 

Overmyer acknowledged earlier this year that some evidence was destroyed by a witness in the presence of a deputy. But he and other local and state officials have refused to provide detail or respond to inquiries about specifically what physical evidence was retained and what evidence was destroyed or discarded. 

Tierney also refused to respond to that inquiry, or say whether and how the destruction of evidence might hamper the current investigation and how that might be remedied.

If any Sandusky County law enforcement official was feeling some heat from the multiple missteps and bad practices that occurred while they were in charge, Donahue and Hemmeter seem determined to bring them comfort. Local officials do indeed, it seems, have friends in Columbus.  

Donahue and Hemmeter are mimicking the very same, slovenly, bureaucratic practices that protracted this investigation beyond any reasonable timeframe from the start. Local officials and now state officials have bungled nearly every basic step in criminal investigation from the very start to this day, creating new standards of incompetence. 

Or old, and regular standards that have always been there but have been hidden from view. 

Click here to read about other families in difficult circumstances in the Register series, "Stabbed, beaten, burnt and zapped."

That might be the case; close partnerships between the BCI and local law enforcement forged by time and a brotherhood. It's fitting the story to the story without accounting for evidence, or addressing flaws that make the story police want to tell implausible.  

The family has raised specific concerns and provided Donahue and Hemmeter with specific, documented, information to warrant that anxiety. The family's questions and requests to the Ohio AG have been reasonable, polite and persistent. 

The response, or more correctly stated, the non-response to legitimate inquiries the family received — first from Sandusky County officials and now from DeWine and company in Columbus — has not been reasonable. It's being irresponsible.

Ignoring the family's legitimate questions doesn't make those questions go away, or diminish their legitimacy.

Ignoring the questions, instead, simply diminishes the stature of the Ohio Attorney General's office, and the validity of its investigation.

Comments

dont blame me

Now you understand. Don’t count on you local FBI either. Politics has a longgggg reach…………………….

dontcare

Could it be that they are correct in their assessment of the case?

Matt Westerhold

Since the AG's office has not provided an assessment, and hasn't interviewed witnesses, it's unlikely it could be correct about an assessment it hasn't provided. 

dontcare

Your story implies the only acceptable answer is your biased pre-conceived one.

Carlos Danger

Matt, maybe you and Mr McGookey should start a petition to have the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment repealed. Of course, if you were successful, I'm sure you would also be the first to criticize any cop who compelled a suspect to provide a statement.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Carlos, but your commentary is silly and self-serving. 

Commenter

But his other question is not silly.

Carlos Danger

Thanks Matt, ditto regarding many of your commentaries.

Matt Westerhold

Yes Carlos, but only one of us has the courage to use his real name. 

Commenter

Why doesn't the register do like some other newspapers and only allow comments by the facebook profile?

Commenter

Why doesn't the register do like some other newspapers and only allow comments by the facebook profile?

Matt Westerhold

Thanks commenter. The Register is reviewing those options and we are considering that path, or something similar, and likely will be introducing some changes in the coming months as to how readers comment in the reader participation section on the news website.

sugar

Courage? Really? Now that's self serving, Mr. Westerhold. The reason you have people commenting at all is because they have anonymity. We are not allowed to have an opposition to liberal thought, the socialist/Alinsky tactic to demonize, and ridicule your opponent has been successful, people, at least I am, afraid to say too much for fear of repercussions. The MSM is complicit in "forwarding" this tactic. The progressives in this country have a following of mindless, dependent sheep and the media, like your Jackson Street Blog, continue to print garbage.

2Timothy1-7

Of all people you should know that these standards of incompetence are "old, and regular standards that have always been there but hidden from view". Didn't BCI the investigative arm of the AG's office have "reliable evidence" that a certain local government attorney engaged in cocaine? But he wasn't prosecuted because BCI and the AG dragged it out so that time became an issue. Never mind at the time of the presentment of the affidavits it was still well within the six years statute of limitation and it would have been easy to obtain additional evidence on him but for his friends working for BCI.

It's also interesting that Ms Hemmeter is being criticized in Southern Ohio for foot dragging on the Steubenville Grand jury too.

In my opinion, Attorney McGookey is wasting his client's time and money hoping the AG's office will find their own agency and law enforcement agencies they supervise, work with, and likely have friends in common incompetent. The AG is not going to find any Ohio law enforcement officer, government official or agency or employee incompetent or that civil rights were violated because the office represents the State of Ohio.

The agencies with the authority to investigate law enforcement official misconduct are the US Department of Justice Public Integrity or civil rights sections and FBI. If serious about an investigation, Mr McGookey should contact Congresswoman Kaptur and ask she assist with getting the units from DC (not local)involved.

dontcare

Who are you going to contact when they come back with the same conclusions? Ehove's law enforcement class?

Matt Westerhold

Thanks dontcare. It could be the EHOVE class might be a better option. That's especially true given the BCI's involvement and it's past findings in past difficult cases, such as Bryan Jones, who was sleeping when he was killed by Sandusky County deputies and BCI explained that a sleeping man "committed suicide by cop." 

dontcare

Matt, to make us all safer, could you please start up a law enforcement entity of competent people. It could work out good for you. You could come up with your own stories that make good press regardless of the facts.....hey come to think of it, that's what your doing now. Thanks for keeping me entertained.

Detrain

Don'tcare you entertain us.what facts are you refering to? The facts sandusky county did not do there job and ag has not talked to wittnesses

Jmschmidt812

Why do you find it necessary to keep talking about the Jones case. That individual decided to drink, decided to scare his parents to the point that they felt compelled to call the authorities. He also chose to pick up a firearm. All of his actions led to his demise. Try portraying him for what he was, a dangerous drunk with a weapon. His parents didn't know if the gun was loaded so how do you expect LE to know that. My question to you would be this, if he had woke and started firing indiscriminately and killed an innocent person would you continue to criticize LE for not doing anything? You can't continue to criticize LE for making life and death decisions based on what you THINK should have been done.

Matt Westerhold

Actually, Jones was a sleeping man on a couch, Jmschmidt. The deputies stood just feet away from him, but rather than simply remove the unloaded weapon from his lap, they stepped back, used a flash bang grenade and shot him dead when he was jerked awake by the sound and fury of the explosion. What other outcome could there have been given those command decisions, and do you really think that was good police work?

If you, or anyone else in the LE community, could explain how that might have been a well-executed plan, please feel free to offer that explanation. The explanation BCI provided was that Jones might have "committed suicide by cop," but they didn't explain how a sleeping man could do that. Try to do better than that unreasonable and implausible conclusion if you're going to offer an explanation; try to be more professional than BCI was in its investigation and conclusions.

As far as your question, I've watched professional police departments in standoff situations that lasted more than 30 hours, on more than one occasion, without anyone being killed. In this instance, nobody was in danger, nobody was being held against their will, nobody other than the deputies were in the home and they felt they had to use a grenade to awaken him. If they felt a grenade was necessary to awaken him, why didn't they simply remove the gun from his lap?

You also asked why it's relative. Unprofessional police practices that result in the death of anyone should be carefully reviewed and corrective action should be taken. That's why the death of Craig Burdine also is important to remember and recall. Your family could be the next to experience that unprofessional and deadly police behavior.

In the Jones killing, the Sandusky County sheriff and BCI chose to ignore the operational missteps, pat each other on the back, and make shallow, non-responsive statements similar to yours. Additionally, the Sandusky County sheriff's office has a pattern of deadly, unprofessional behavior and a fatal partnership with BCI. 

The deputies killed Jones 90 minutes after arriving at the home.  If you're in law enforcement, and you think that was a well-executed operation, please get more professional training.

Thanks for your comment. 

Sal Dali

Matt, Just reading your response here and wondering...have you ever requested the reports from each of these incidents to see if any of the officers were present at more than one of these incidents, including Jake's? Research who was working what shift and in what capacity. Investigative reporting ya know :-) Sadly enough, I have doubts the AG will delve down deeply enough into this corruption as he seems to be preoccupied trying to avoid testifying in that 100 million dollar multi-state fraud trial (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireSto...). As you mentioned, this type of tragedy could happen to anyone; it should be swept out from under the rug.

skydog44870

This should have been your first clue….

The AG's office "will do a thorough investigation," DeWine said, but "our job is not to critique the previous investigations, our purpose is to do the investigation."

Kelly

They haven't even announced a ruling yet

Sam

The Register was the one of the first to demand the AG/BCI to investigate, now when they think its not going their way, they criticize the AG/BCI, can't have it both ways. Was once told, be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.

Detrain

You right sam but now you read where AG's office will not investigate wittnesses makes you wonder.

skydog44870

Just because someone is “given” a title does not mean they have the know how or experience and competence to do the job. I wonder how many times the AG investigators and BCI agents sat in Sheriff Overmyer’s office being schmoozed and playing the political elbow rub.

Good Luck!!

Kelly

Yeah, like Dr. Phil

Detrain

Well done matt. If new evidence or something comes up pertaining to one of the wittnesses you bring them back for questioning that is standard procedure that I was always thought. Yes then they can clam up and not say anything then but with so much stuff I sm sure you can make then talk even with there attorney there. Maybe family needs to go higher up and get help to expose sandusky county and now maybe ag's office so it does not happen to another family. Ag's office saying they can not talk to a wittness cause of his Fifth Amendment that just is just a cop out of not doing your job right in my opinion.

snowman6

Take a seat SR. When it doesn't go the way you want it, the same rhetoric is printed of the "friends" in political positions and everything is done wrong. The right to exercise the 5th amendment to some is just as important as your right to the 1st amendment. Law enforcement officials have to abide by basic rules of interview /interrogation when a person invokes their 5th amendment right. If they don't follow the rules they are not investigating the case correctly and the SR would smear that all over the paper. I support SCSO and now have no reason to watch Dr. Phil anymore.

Detrain

Snownan6 you are right about one thing if they do not follow the rules yes they not investigating the case correctly. Glad you made it clear to us you support corruption for mishandling the whole case and maybe other cases at that. You have your opinion and I respect that but facts and evidence are there and they do not lie.

Carlos Danger

Does anyone know whatever happened to that case of the person or persons who illegally put a listening device on a Limberios Saga witness's cell phone? Were the guilty persons ever identified and prosecuted? And why didn't the Register follow up on this and report the outcome?

Commenter

Good Question Carlos.

Commenter

noticing no response to this one.

Matt Westerhold

It's interesting that with all the questions that have been raised, you're focussing on that one. Perhaps you should call public officials and ask that question. Good luck. 

Julie R.

I voted for DeWine because he claimed he was going to put a stop to the corruption in OHIO. I really hope he doesn't turn out to be as worthless as the two jokes before him were.

Sal Dali

I think the AG elections are next year. If his office doesn't do a competent job he may have to face the fact that he may not be re-elected. The story is already sounding lame and they haven't given any indication it is going to get better. Someone mentioned having the US Department of Justice look into this, he might consider how it will appear if he doesn't look into the incompetent way this investigation was handled, especially if they are not interviewing eyewitnesses. Dr. Phil will interview these eyewitnesses but not the Ohio AG's office? It doesn't take a MA in Criminal Justice to figure this one out.

Jmschmidt812

All these people were asking for the AG's office to step in. Now that they're here, they're are corrupt too. Where do these allegations of corruption end. If the FBI shows up and comes up with the same thing, are they going to be linked to corruption as well. Nothing has been released from the AG's office yet and the SR is already making accusations of incompetence and cover ups. This is starting to look like a one sided story, all LE is corrupt and covering up. Nobody else is in the wrong.

Detrain

One sided story yes sandusky ccounty and AG'S office can do no wrong according to some of you. If you do not. Interigate wittnesses what are people gonna think people voted for him cause he said he was gonna end corruption now is his chance. If not makes you wonder if his office is part of the problem just my opinion.

Jmschmidt812

How do you guys know that they don't have what they need? NOTHING has been released, yet people are implying incompetence, cover up and things of this nature. Just because the AG's office hasn't done what you THINK they should do, doesn't mean corruption, cover ups or anything like that. Give them time to present what they have gathered before criticizing the AG's office.

Truth or Dare

Malfeasance: n. intentionally doing something either legally or morally wrong which one had no right to do. It always involves dishonesty, illegality, or KNOWINGLY EXCEEDING AUTHORITY FOR IMPROPER REASONS.

There you have it in a nut shell, and it started from the very beginning. Declare one's death a suicide, no investigation is necessary. Easy out! By the way, who here is saying ALL LE?

gramafun

The AG's office was asked to "check" the investigation was it not? They were not asked to "redo" an investigation were they? So why does McGookey have his knickers in a knot over who is or is not questioned? It seems to me that everyone should just back off the AG's office and let this alone until finished, including lawyers, newspapers and Dr. Phil (how he got involved is beyond me) and let this finish!. It was my understanding the AG was to "investigate the investigation" so who they do or do not talk to, re investigate, etc, should not be of consequence at this point. Let them do their job at THEIR pace, not anyone else's and (pardon me) but shut the heck up until the AG releases the results. Stop pinning any attitude or name on them until such time as they deserve it. Be patient! I didn't know there was a stop watch on the AG's office to produce.

(I can't believe I am defending someone I cannot normally stand like the AG of this State)

Truth or Dare

There is no defense, and I call it as I see it and have long before this discussion regarding the Jone's case, let alone Jacob's death. It's called Malfeasance, at many levels and if you want to defend and condone it, that's your prerogative. P.S. Pretty sure quite a few would wish I would shut-up, but you see, I'm a firm defender of that thing called the U.S. Constitution, especially the 1st. Amendment; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Call it a grievance! You see granny, should our government officials want respect, they damn straight will earn it by doing right by those they're meant to SERVE & PROTECT, and get paid by!