On June 2, a 17-year-old was found beaten to death at a school for at-risk youth founded by LeBron James. The teen had a broken neck, as well as the imprint of a shoe on his chest wall, according to a preliminary autopsy report.
The autopsy findings released by the Summit County Medical Examiner (SCME) in the gruesome case were reported in The Akron Beacon Journal last week, according to The New York Post. They detail the horrific injuries sustained by Ethan Liming in the parking lot of the I Promise school in Akron, Ohio, which was founded in 2018 by basketball billionaire LeBron James.
The report also indicates that Liming suffered severe blunt force trauma to the head. The trauma included a broken occipital bone, which connects with the cervical spine and helps to protect the brain.
Brothers Deshawn Stafford, Jr., 20, and Tyler Stafford, 19, and Donovan Jones, 21, have all been arrested in connection with the homicide. US Marshals and Akron police officers apprehended the three with no incident.
It appears that Liming’s death was a result of some unwise troublemaking after Liming and three friends allegedly decided to play a prank by shooting the three suspects with a high-tech water gun while they were playing basketball.
Understandably, that led to a serious brawl that had fatal consequences. A 911 call, apparently by one of Liming’s friends, seems to have been made while the brawl was still ongoing, at which point Liming may still have been alive.
When police arrived, however, they found him lying on his back, with blood pouring from his head, nose, mouth, and ears. He also had a black eye and a laceration to the head.
The broken occipital bone is the only broken bone found in Liming’s body, and the medical examiner is still unclear if this was the injury that led to his death.
“The investigation is still going on,” Amy Schaefer, an investigator at the ME’s office, told The Daily Mail. “The autopsy results and the death certificate are pending and have not yet been finalized and could take several weeks.”
That hasn’t stopped a defense lawyer for one of the suspects from claiming that Liming may have been knocked unconscious by a single blow, and sustained the fracture after falling to the concrete.
The suspects’ lawyers have also contended that their clients believed they were being attacked by an actual gun, rather than a toy water pistol. Liming and his friends were using a “SplatRBall” gun, a sophisticated upgrade to the old water gun, which shoots water beads that explode when they strike a target, rather like a paintball gun.
The stupid and deadly ambush is thought to have been inspired by another viral TikTok challenge, called the “Orbeez Challenge,” in which teens film themselves shooting unsuspecting strangers with toy guns that shoot water gel beads.
The three suspects, meanwhile, have all pleaded not guilty to felonious assault and murder, and are currently being held in jail on a $1 million bond.
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