Trial begins for two Black men charged in beating death of White teenager Ethan Liming

Akron, Ohio – The two Black men accused of beating White teenager, Ethan Liming to death in the parking lot of the I Promise School are set to face trial today. While charges for the accused have already been reduced to involuntary manslaughter, defense attorneys allege that Liming’s death was merely a case of “self-defense.”

At trial, Prosecutors plan to assert that DeShawn and Tyler Stafford—who are Black—should be held criminally accountable for the death of Liming. A Summit County jury will ultimately decide as both Stafford brothers begin a joint trial this week. Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday, 9/13, and opening statements and testimony are slated for Friday, 9/15.

The beating death of Ethan Liming made headlines in June of 2022, when three adult Black men were alleged to have brutalized him on the grounds of an elementary school. Liming was a beloved athlete and drew many at a candlelight vigil. Photo collage: Hyphen-Report.

According to newly released court records, DeShawn and Tyler Stafford—two brothers who only face involuntary manslaughter for their suspected role in beating White teenager, Ethan Liming to death last June—are preparing to claim self-defense. Records stated that when DeShawn Stafford punched 17-year-old Ethan Liming in the face, he was allegedly coming to the “defense” of his brother who was “fighting” with Liming.

After Liming was struck by DeShawn, media outlets claimed that he then fell backward and “hit his head” on the pavement. Liming was then knocked unconscious and ultimately died from his injuries as a result of a freak accident occurring during the fight.

The narrative, while seemingly convenient for the defense, appears to contradict early reporting which portrayed Liming as a peacekeeper trying to stop a fight between the Black adults and his teenage friends. Other key evidence appears to also be ignored—such as a broken collarbone and footprints stomped onto Liming’s chest wall. The autopsy report, which has never been fully published aside from small previews, alleges brutality at the hands of the Stafford brothers long after Ethan had been knocked unconscious.

“We’re pretty confident—once the jurors hear all the facts—they will not have a choice but to realize this tragedy was brought on by the actions of the victim and his friends,” said Stafford’s Attorney Jon Sinn. “I’m confident—once all the facts are heard—all these boys will be going home,” he said.

DeShawn Stafford (left) faces the largest prison sentence if convicted. While awaiting trial, Stafford was rearrested after violating the terms of his court-imposed house arrest. GPS monitoring calculated his absence from home to be over 55 hours. Photo: Justice Report.

Originally facing murder for the killing, both Black suspects were ultimately indicted with far lesser charges by a grand jury. As a result, DeShawn Stafford is now only charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, first and third-degree felonies. He also faces a single count of aggravated assault, a fourth-degree felony, and assault, a first-degree misdemeanor. His brother, Tyler, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault.

If convicted, DeShawn Stafford faces an underwhelming maximum of 11 years behind bars for the death of Ethan Liming, while Tyler Stafford faces even less, a maximum of 3. While awaiting trial, DeShawn Stafford was reported to have been rearrested for continuously violating the terms of his house arrest to go to places like Burger King and a friend’s home in Cleveland. Donovan Jones, a third suspect and cousin to the Stafford’s, pled guilty to two misdemeanors and received only a reduced jail sentence. He now walks free.

“The people who have the power to stand up for my son are not doing it, so it’s up to me as a father to speak for my son who cannot speak for himself.”

Bill Liming, victim’s father.

The much more sufficient charges of Murder were dropped almost one year ago after a jury—presided by Republican Summit County Court judge Tammy O’Brien—opted to indict on lesser charges. Brad Gessner, chief counsel for the Summit County Prosecutors Office, alleged that “additional information” came to light during the grand trial hearing that “impacted the decisions” of the jury.

When asked what exactly that “information” was, Gessner infamously stated, “Those aren’t facts that can be made public.”

“At this point, we have been focused on the acts that led to Ethan’s death and those who committed the offenses,” said Gessner in an interview. He went on to reveal that Liming’s friends—two Black and one White—who were present at the time of his death, were all juveniles. Despite their alleged role in instigating the fight, they avoided criminal charges.

Ethan Liming’s father, Bill Liming, expressed outrage at the criminal justice system when it became apparent his alleged killers were only going to receive a slap on the wrist. Photo: News 5 Cleveland.

While the Defense is alleged to have been “pleased” over the lesser charges, the family of Ethan Liming—most notably his father, Bill Liming—were outraged. In an exclusive interview with News 5 Cleveland, Bill Liming broke his silence on the matter, feeling “naive” that he once placed his whole-hearted trust in the American criminal justice system. In the interview, Bill stated that he believed race was indeed a factor in his son’s killing.

“I naively believed that once the people who murdered my son were caught that the justice system would simply handle things,” said Bill Liming. “We’ve said all along we were confident when the facts of the case were presented that Ethan would receive justice.”

“The people who have the power to stand up for my son are not doing it, so it’s up to me as a father to speak for my son who cannot speak for himself,” he continued.

For some, the apparent set of “double standards” set in place for White citizens became far too obvious to ignore. No more justified in its anger was the pro-White advocacy organization, the National Justice Party (NJP). Upset at the lack of hate crime charges issued to the three suspects by Summit County prosecutors, and outraged at clear-cut evidence that suggested Liming’s death was racially motivated, NJP personalities quickly championed the Liming case when no one else seemed to emerge. Since then, Supporters and volunteer activists have marched twice in the streets of Akron, predating even Bill Liming’s own opposition to the system and its failures.

“The medical examiner’s report claiming Ethan Liming died from a fall is fraudulent and corrupt. It is a political report, not a scientific one,” said NJP Chairman Mike Peinovich, on his personal Telegram. “The state and media are collaborating to cover up the cause of death and excuse his black killers.”

“Saying Liming died from a fall is like saying the red SUV is what killed the people in Waukesha. Why did he fall? How was the red SUV propelled through a crowd of people?” He continued.

Supporters and volunteer activists of the National Justice Party marched twice in front of Akron’s Harold K Stubbs Justice Center in support of Liming. In addition to hate crimes charges, the pro-White organization demanded an end to what they called a two-tiered and “anti-White” criminal justice system. Photo: Justice Report.

Since Liming’s death, multiple narratives have emerged from institutional media sources, which have appeared to downplay the Black men’s involvement in Liming’s death, and instead, shift blame onto other factors. In October of 2022, the Akron Beacon Journal obtained Liming’s full autopsy report after journalists threatened authorities with legal action. They then published snippets of it in a follow-up article that went on to—outrageously—blame Ethan for his own death and seemingly run cover for all three Black suspects.

In the article, journalists went on to attack the National Justice Party and its mission of pro-White advocacy, by linking to scurrilous sources from the controversial Jewish power organization, the Anti-Defamation League. Additionally, they reported that a trace amount of marijuana was allegedly found in a urine sample taken during the autopsy and quoted defense attornies who alleged that a small amount of marijuana, as well as a scale, was discovered in the car Liming and his friends were driving.

For many, the mere mention of recreational drugs came across as a scurrilous attempt to sour public opinion of Liming who was well regarded by friends, family, and peers as a talented athlete and high school student. To this day, it is unclear who owned the marijuana, and Liming’s connection to the material could not be verified.

The Akron Police Department has come out with its own unique takes on Liming’s death as well, all of which fail to place any significant blame on his alleged attackers. Instead, outgoing Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett spun a narrative involving a “Splatrball” water gun toy, which up to two of Liming’s friends may have discharged before the fight ensued. While he ultimately said that Liming did not deserve to die for what amounted to a prank, he warned residents to be wary of social media youth “challenges” and the dangers they could bring.

Outgoing Akron Police Chief, Steven Mylett showcases the toy that he alleges instigated the fight that killed Ethan Liming. Retiring from Law Enforcement in 2024, Mylett leaves behind a legacy of departmental collaboration with criminal defense attornies and a series of BLM riots instigated after his officers justifiably shot and killed Black career criminal, Jayland Walker, weeks after Liming’s death. Photo: Karen Schiely, Akron Beacon Journal.

“At the conclusion of it, Ethan Liming is dead,” he said in a press conference last year. “Ethan Liming did not deserve to die that night at that point based on what we know now.”

The controversial handling of the Liming case, as well as a series of fiery BLM riots erupting over the shooting death of Jayland Walker, may have contributed to a recent decision by Mylett to retire from law enforcement at the end of the year. According to reports, the seasoned police chief—who has worked in multiple states before arriving in Akron—is set to depart from his position on January 1st and begin work at a yet-to-be-announced private sector position.

Instances of White people falling prey to exceedingly violent Black criminals have become a perennial issue in the state of Ohio. In Norton, a Black man and repeat criminal offender was arrested for the brutal “road rage killing” of a White driver along Interstate 76. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by the Justice Report revealed a prolific history of prison violence and pattern of misbehavior. In June, exactly one year after Liming’s death, another Black man was charged with abusing the corpse of a teenage White girl who may have run away from home. The results of that FOIA request revealed that the suspect was convicted numerous times and had a whopping 309-page criminal history in Ohio State prisons.

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