State probe into death offers family hope

7/23/2013
BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Limberios
Limberios

More than a month has lapsed since the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, including the special prosecutor in a highly publicized Steubenville rape case, began investigating the 2012 death of a Castalia teenager.

An attorney who represents Jacob Limberios’ family hopes that now that the case is in the hands of the state office, the 19-year-old man’s loved ones have answers to long-sought questions in the next couple of months.

“The goal is now and has always been from the beginning to find out the truth,” family attorney Daniel McGookey said.

The March, 2012, shooting death was ruled a suicide by the Sandusky County Coroner John Wukie. The family disputes the ruling and hired a forensic pathologist, who after an autopsy, said the death was a homicide.

A second autopsy by the Lucas County coroner’s office reported findings “not inconsistent” with the suicide ruling.

The Attorney General’s office was appointed to the investigation June 10, after a judge removed Dean Henry, Tiffin attorney and special prosecutor, from the case amid the family’s conflict-of-interest concerns. Mr. Henry, who could not be reached for comment Monday, also represents the coroner in a challenge of the suicide ruling.

Marianne Hemmeter, the attorney general’s special prosecutor in the Steubenville rape case that resulted in the March convictions of two high school students, Matt Donahue, chief of the special prosecutions section, and William Schenck, Attorney General Mike DeWine’s senior adviser, have been assigned to the case.

“These are three top trial lawyers who have been involved in a lot of investigations over the years,” Mr. DeWine said.

He couldn’t provide a specific time for completion of the work, but said investigators are reviewing documents and conducting interviews.

It’s rare for his office to step into an inquiry more than a year later, he said. State investigators did not respond when the shooting took place, another reason that makes the work “more difficult,” he said.

“We have one mission, and that is to find what the truth [is],” Mr. DeWine said.

Mr. McGookey said has found the investigative efforts of local authorities lacking. He said that’s one “glaring similarity” between this case and the Steubenville case, in which some alleged the defendants received special treatment.

“The family and friends of the family feel that ... justice has not been served, to say the least,” he said.

He called the Attorney General’s involvement “a breath of fresh air.”

“They are pursuing this and I believe they arepursuing it vigorously,” Mr. McGookey said.

Contact Vanessa McCray at:

vmccray@theblade.com,

419-724-6065, or on

Twitter @vanmccray.