Deshawn and Tyler Stafford were acquitted of involuntary manslaughter charges. Deshawn was found guilty of felony aggravated assault as well as a misdemeanor count of assault. Tyler was also found guilty on a misdemeanor count of assault.
A third, first-degree felony count of involuntary manslaughter against Deshawn was dismissed as jurors failed to reach a verdict. Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tammy O’Brien declared it a mistrial.
Deshawn’s bond was revoked during the Monday hearing. He could face up to 2 1/2 years in prison on his convictions, prosecutors said Monday. A sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 26.
Jurors were tasked with deciding if Liming’s beating death outside the I Promise School in Akron in June 2022 was involuntary manslaughter or an act of self-defense.
Jurors earlier Monday morning signaled they were struggling to reach a verdict. Judge O’Brien sent jurors back into deliberations.
The trial started on Friday, Sept. 15. After two full days of deliberations, the jury ended Friday, Sept. 22, with no verdict.
In June of last year, the brothers were playing basketball with friends when Liming and three of his friends drove up and started firing gel guns at them as a prank.
During a fight that ensued, Deshawn admitted during police interrogation that he hit Liming and knocked him out. Liming died from his head hitting the pavement.
Brad Gessner, the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office chief counsel, on Monday told reporters the office will now consider whether to re-try the first-degree felony charge of involuntary manslaughter on which jurors could not decide.
“The jury took their time. You see how long they deliberated. Those are decisions the jury could tell us (about). We’ll have to wait and see if we have the opportunity to hear from them,” he said
“The family has gone through something that no one should ever have to deal with — the emotions tied to this, the loss of a child. We respect their grieving,” Gessner said. “There’s nothing that can be done to bring their child back. This is something that, in better circumstances, would have never happened.”
Deshawn’s attorney Jon Sinn called it a “tough case” that ultimately ended with a fair trial.
“We are grateful the jurors took as much time as they did. There’s no winners here. Absolutely not. It’s kind of a split verdict,” he said. “The state of Ohio fought hard. Police did the job they needed to do. The community needed to figure this thing out.”
Sinn said it appeared the jury was sending “a message” that Liming’s death, though unfortunate, was not caused by Deshawn’s actions.
“I hope this verdict allows all the folks who have suffered, all the folks who are hurting … I hope this verdict allows them to get some kind of closure, some kind of peace,” he said.