The three men charged in the beating death of 17-year-old Ethan Liming at the I Promise School in Akron earlier this month made their initial court appearances Monday morning.
Deshawn Stafford Jr., 20, Tyler Stafford, 19, and Donovan Jones, 21, all of Akron, pleaded not guilty to charges of felonious assault and murder in Akron Municipal Court.
Each are being held in Summit County Jail on $1 million bonds.
The case stems from a violent incident June 2 on the grounds of the I Promise School on West Market Street.
Police say Liming and three of his friends went to the school and apparently shot toy water gel guns at a group playing basketball on the school's outdoor basketball courts at night.
Deshawn Stafford Jr., Tyler Stafford and Donovan Jones appear in Akron Municipal Court
Jones, who faces an additional charge of disrupting public service, was the first to appear via video arraignment from the jail.
In court, defense attorney Jon Sinn said Jones has worked at a warehouse for 2½ years and has a child on the way.
Jones asked for a $500,000 bond, but Judge James Kimbler set his bond at $1 million.
Deshawn Stafford was the second to appear.
Sinn said Deshawn, along with his brother and a cousin, were playing basketball on the outside court at the school when a car pulled up and pointed what appeared to be automatic weapons and opened fire.
They initially ran, Sinn said, and the occupants got out of the car and pursued.
Once the trio realized there were not real bullets flying through the air, Sinn said, the groups confronted each other. Liming was punched, fell back, struck his head on the pavement and died.
"This is a tragedy," Sinn said.
Sinn said the defendants were doing what the community wants them to do — simply playing basketball on a community court — when the car with kids from "outside" the neighborhood drove up and fired gel pellet guns at them.
Deshawn Stafford's bond also was set at $1 million.
His brother, Tyler Stafford, was the last to appear and, after he pleaded not guilty, Kimbler set his bond at $1 million.
The three men were apprehended over the weekend by Akron police and the U.S. Marshal's northern Ohio task force.
Ethan Liming remembered: Hundreds gather at Firestone CLC to mourn Ethan Liming, 17, killed in fight near I Promise
Liming was a rising senior at Firestone Community Learning Center, and he played on the school's football and baseball teams.
Liming's funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Montrose Zion United Methodist Church. Calling hours will be 4-8 p.m. Thursday.
Craig Webb can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Ethan Liming case: 3 men charged in beating death get $1 million bonds