A Toledo man has been sentenced to life in prison after admitting to fatally stabbing a University of Toledo student last July.
Lawrence Fitzgerald James, 24, plead guilty to a murder charge Wednesday during a pretrial hearing 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' 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 .
At sentencing on Thursday, Bucher's mother pleaded with the judge saying, "I beg you to punish this monster and make him face life in prison for what he's done to Casey." The judge senteced James to 15 years to life in prison, but told James he would likely serve the full sentence. "When you go down to the instituation you will never be released. You will die in the penitentiary."
James was on post release control (parole for his 2008 offense) at the time of Bucher's death, so he will first serve one year behind bars for violating parole. He will be eligible for parole after 16 years behind bars.
James was declared competent to stand trial after undergoing a detailed mental evaluation in November. He admitted to police, upon his arrest, that he stabbed Bucher, but pleaded not guilty in court on Jul. 29. He was sent to the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital where he was observed for several weeks.