Confessed killer of UT student pleads not guilty

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

The man who confessed to stabbing a University of Toledo student after asking for change and a smoke has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder.

Lawrence Fitzgerald James, 24, was arraigned in Lucas Count Common Pleas Court Thursday morning, where he pleaded not guilty to fatally stabbing Casey Bucher, 22.

Bucher had just left Maxwell's Brew, at Bancroft and Westwood, around 8:00 p.m. on July 18 when James approached asking for a cigarette and 35-cents in change. 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 was located by police a few hours later at his home, just behind the restaurant. He confessed to stabbing Bucher after asking for change and a cigarette. If convicted of the crime, James faces up to life in prison. He will not face the death penalty because there is no evidence suggesting a robbery took place along with the murder.

A defense attorney is likely to request a psychiatric evaluation for James, who in 2008, a judge deemed competent to stand trial for the stabbing of a Toledo gas station clerk. James' court-appointed attorney says he will seek a not guilty by reason of insanity plea for his client.

James is being held in the Lucas County Jail on $750,000 bond. He will next be in court for a pre-trial hearing on Aug. 19. A trial date has been set for Sept. 7.