WILMINGTON — The victim and the suspect each gave their sides of the story in Clinton County Common Pleas Court Wednesday.
On the third day of a scheduled three-day jury trial of Brian Liming, 44, of Jamestown — who allegedly shot an officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Wildlife Division — he and ODNR Officer Kevin Behr each took the witness stand.
Wildlife officers were investigating a deer poaching complaint last December in the area of Macedonia Road and Martinsville Road when the shooting occurred.
According to authorities, Liming had exited the vehicle he was in, went into a wooded area where Behr was, and fired a shot to chase out a buck deer they heard was in the area.
Liming reported hearing Behr scream; Liming found Behr, then Liming ran out of the woods, told another suspect to call 911, and then Liming “got nervous and fled the scene on foot.”
When asked to recall what happened on December 20, 2020, Behr remembers getting a decoy set up when he heard a noise.
Behr, wearing full camo gear and clothing, stated he got down on his hands and knees. He then felt what he described as a “sledgehammer” to his buttocks area followed by an intense burn, then he heard the shot.
He said remembers seeing Liming come up and stating something along the lines of, “you stupid mother (expletive),” though Behr advised he couldn’t recall precisely what was said.
During Liming’s testimony, he said he couldn’t recall saying anything like that. Liming testified he tried to find his phone to call 911 but struggled due to the multiple layers of clothing he was wearing.
Based on that, Behr told the court he was afraid Liming was either going to shoot him again or possibly run him over.
Officer Behr was hospitalized, initially in critical condition, for nearly three months, and he underwent numerous surgeries.
During his testimony, Behr told the court about the various medical procedures and the extent of his injuries. He advised his pelvis was shattered and many of his internal organs were damaged. He said he now has to have a colostomy bag at all times and he now walks with two walking sticks, similar to hiking poles.
“It has been a struggle every day,” said Behr, adding his family has also been greatly affected.
He advised he doesn’t hate Liming but feels sorry for him.
During his time on the stand, Liming admitted he should not have had the gun due to his weapons disability. Liming also added he was there to just help collect a deer and not hunt. When asked why he had the gun, he said he was hunting coyotes.
When asked why he ran and lied to authorities upon being confronted, Liming said he was in a panic and scared because he was on probation.
During closing arguments, defense attorney Brock Schoenlein argued that Liming wasn’t reckless with his shooting since he didn’t know Behr would’ve been there.
Clinton County Prosecutor Andrew McCoy during his closing statement felt the defense was trying to gaslight the jury and also trying to blame Behr since he was wearing camo.
McCoy retorted it was still reckless behavior due to Liming hunting without a license, with a gun he shouldn’t have had, and on property he shouldn’t been on.
The trial recessed until Thursday.
Liming faces four charges including assault (felony 4), tampering with evidence (felony 3), hunting without a deer permit (misdemeanor 3), and hunting without a license (misdemeanor 3). He is one of three men charged in relation to the incident.
The other two men originally charged in the case were Achtermann, 36, of Midland, and Thomas Davis, 35, of Jamestown.
Achtermann entered a no-contest plea to charges of hunting without a license and hunting deer without a permit in Clinton County Municipal Court. He was sentenced to 20 days suspended jail time, must take part in supervised probation, must forfeit his firearm to authorities, and is prohibited from hunting for six years.
Davis was charged with a prohibited action misdemeanor, which would be dismissed in Clinton County Municipal Court.
Liming pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful transport of firearms in U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio in August. Liming was ordered to forfeit a 20-gauge shotgun and eight 20-gauge shotgun shells to authorities.