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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2011

Man gets life in prison for stabbing death of UT student

Lawrence James, who pleaded guilty to murder for the stabbing death of a University of Toledo student, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.

James, 25, pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder for the July 18 death of Casey Bucher. During his plea, he acknowledged following Mr. Bucher, a UT sophomore, who was leaving Maxwell's Brew at Bancroft Street and Westwood Avenue at about 8 p.m. The 22-year-old man died from a single stab wound through the heart.

Judge Ruth Ann Franks ordered James to serve a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the eligibility of parole after 15 years.

Because James was on post-release control, or parole, from a 2008 offense at the time of the murder, he was also ordered to serve one year in prison for violating parole. Judge Franks explained that he would first be eligible to go before the parole board after serving 16 years in prison.

Authorities said that James admitted to detectives in a recorded confession that he approached Mr. Bucher, asking for cigarettes and change. When the victim refused, James stabbed him.

During his plea, James told Judge Franks that a series of dreams compelled him to stab Mr. Bucher. He said he often has trouble discerning between dreams and reality.

In November, Judge Franks found James competent to stand trial for murder, using three independent evaluations as guidance.

In one of those reports dated Nov. 5, the psychologist said he believed James “attempted to appear significantly more impaired and disturbed than he actually is” and that “he is capable of being more open than he has shown.”

James was observed for several weeks in the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital, where he received the second of his evaluations.

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