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Investigator: Expert calls teen suicide 'a homicide'

10:22 AM, Mar 8, 2013   |    comments
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SANDUSKY COUNTY -- Noted forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht says there is no way that teenager Jake Limberios could have pulled the trigger of the gun that killed him last year.

Limberios was partying with three others on March 2, 2012, at a home near Clyde when a gun discharged, instantly killing him, according to reports by the Sandusky Sheriff's Office.

The witnesses told authorities that Limberios was handling the gun and put it to his head before the gun fired.

Based on those statements, Sandusky County Coroner John Wukie ruled the death a suicide, noting that Limberios, 19, "may not have realized the gun was loaded."

Wukie never performed an autopsy.

The Limberios family never believed it and filed a lawsuit to force the sheriff's office to reopen the case.

In an effort to bolster their case, they hired Wecht, who has worked on high-profile cases, to conduct an autopsy and forensic exam.

Wecht found that there was no gunshot residue in the area around the entrance wound. He said that, had Limberios fired the weapon at close range, some of the gunpowder that is discharged with the bullet would have lodged itself deep into the skin.

Wecht's conclusion: someone else must have fired the shot that killed Limberios.

"I'm not saying this is a premeditated, first-degree murder," said Wecht. "But it's certainly a homicide investigation."

Wecht has provided a tissue sample to Dean Henry, who was appointed as a special prosecutor and is now conducting a new criminal investigation as a result of the Limberios lawsuit.

Henry isn't sure he's even going to look at it though, he said.

"Experts can disagree on what the evidence means," Henry said. "All of the witnesses say (Jake) took his life by discharging the firearm. They have been absolutely consistent in their material statements."

Mike and Shannon Limberios say their son had everything to live for. He was a young father, had gone to vocational school to study computers, and he had a great outlook on life.

They say Limberios also took pride in knowing guns and gun safety. As a hobby, he would go to gun shows to trade antiques and late-model firearms.

"Our neighbor would always say, 'Boy, that's one sharp kid when it comes to gun knowledge,'" said Shannon Limberios.

The couple became suspicious that Limberios might have been killed by someone else after learning that he was shot in the left side of his head. Limberios was right handed.

"He wouldn't have handled his gun with his left hand," said Shannon Limberios.

Wecht says he cannot understand why the coroner did not order an autopsy based on the discrepancy.

"That alone would have made a 10th-grade high school student who watches CSI programs a little suspicious," Wecht said.

Family attorney Dan McGookey says the initial investigation by the Sandusky Sheriff's Office lacked credibility.

"Without calling in a detective, without calling in the coroner, without calling in (the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation), they made a ruling within hours that Jake had committed suicide," McGookey said.

The family says they sued to find out the truth.  

"We want to know what happened to Jacob," said Mike Limberios. "I can't live the rest of my life not knowing what happened to my son."


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