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2 brothers receive maximum sentences for assault charges in connection with Ethan Liming's death

Stafford brothers
Posted at 11:52 AM, Oct 26, 2023

AKRON, Ohio — Two brothers, Deshawn and Tyler Stafford, each received the maximum sentences for the assault charges they were found guilty of for their roles in the death of 17-year-old Akron high school student Ethan Liming last summer.

It was an emotional day in court for a case that the judge called "a perfect storm of poor decisions."

Tyler Stafford received a six-month jail sentence for his one misdemeanor count of assault.

Deshawn Stafford received an 18-month prison sentence for his felony count of aggravated assault, in addition to a 6-month sentence for assault to be served concurrently, for a total prison sentence of 18 months.

State prosecutors declined to re-try Deshawn Stafford for the one count of involuntary manslaughter that the jury was unable to reach a decision on.

In a letter to the Liming family attorney, Chief Counsel Brad Gessner stated, in part: "While we argued and sought conviction on all counts and did not agree with the majority of jurors who voted to acquit, we do not see a path forward which will result in a conviction. Absent such a belief by our office, a retrial would not be appropriate."

Prior to sentencing, Ethan's father, aunt and mother gave emotionally charged statements about their son's death.

"Every time you look at your hands, I know you will never forget him either. May he haunt your thoughts and may you see his face every day of your life," said Ethan's aunt and godmother, Kristi Lang, addressing the brothers directly.

Jennifer Liming, Ethan's mother, said, "I am reminded that I will never see his smile or hear his laugh. I will never hear him call me 'mom,' and I will never understand this."

Watch the complete sentencing hearing below:

After the hearing, Ethan's father spoke out against the jury's decision and the justice system as a whole.

"Somehow they came to the decision when they were assaulting him, that wasn't self-defense, but when they were killing him, it was," Bill Liming said. "I just want to say that any verdict where the victims are left terrified is just a symptom of the fact that there is something sick and wrong with our justice system."

Liming died from a head injury during a fight with the brothers after he and his friends shot gel pellets at them from a toy gun while they played basketball outside the I Promise school in Akron.

The two brothers claimed self-defense under Ohio's Stand Your Ground law. According to police, two of Liming's friends got out of Ethan's car and used an Orbeez toy gun to shoot gel pellets at the basketball players, including the brothers. Police said as the fight continued, Liming was punched, fell and hit his head on the pavement, which caused his death, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner.

Last month, a jury found Deshawn Stafford guilty of assault and aggravated assault and Tyler Stafford guilty of assault after deliberating for two days. They were found not guilty of one count of involuntary manslaughter. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on another involuntary manslaughter charge against Deshawn Stafford; a mistrial was declared for that charge.

Liming's family said they were "completely devastated" by the verdict.

Rev. Jaland Finney, the Stafford family's pastor, also spoke Thursday, in defense of the brothers.

"They have been castigated as these great murderers, as these animals, as these wild thugs. These are young men who were doing what most in the African American community would love for their young men to do," he said, referring to the fact that the brothers were playing basketball when the tragedy unfolded. "I thank God for these young men and I'm going to continue to be there with these young men because their lives go beyond a sentence and beyond a verdict."

You can watch more in the player below:

'The Liming Family is completely devastated by the outcome of this trial'
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