Confessed killer of UT student competent to stand trial

Lawrence Fitzgerald James, 24, is seen in Toledo Municipal Court on Monday, July 26, 2010.

A Toledo man accused of fatally stabbing a University of Toledo student in July has been declared competent to stand trial after undergoing a detailed mental evaluation.

Lawrence Fitzgerald James, 24, is charged with murder and faces up to life in prison if convicted in the death of Casey Bucher, 22. The UT sophomore was walking along Westwood and Bancroft on Jul. 18 when James is said to have approached him asking for change and a cigarette. James then stabbed Bucher in the chest and fled the scene.

Bucher was able to call 9-1-1 from his cell phone. He was transported to an area hospital where he died a short time later.

James, who admitted to police that he stabbed Bucher, pleaded not guilty in court on Jul. 29. He was sent to the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital where he was observed for several weeks.

The suspect's mother says her son has suffered with mental illness since he was a teenager. He has committed several crimes since the age of nine, and even attempted to claim he was incompetent to stand trial during his first felonious assault case in 2008. In that case he was found guilty of stabbing of a Toledo gas station clerk.

In court on Tuesday, James entered a plea of not guilty to the murder charge against him.

James is currently being held in the Lucas County Jail on $750,000 bond. He will be in court on Wednesday, Nov. 17, for a pre-trial hearing.