Family members of the victim asked the judge to sentence Phil Mike to prison for as long as possible.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A judge sentenced a Liberty man who says he killed his clone to 17 years in prison.
Phil Mike was convicted last month of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery. He was acquitted of a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.
At the request of Mike's attorney, Judge John Stuard instead of a jury heard the case in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. He sentenced Mike on Thursday.
The 36-year-old man was accused of beating and hacking to death Joe Furda, 40, of Youngstown, in a wooded area of Liberty Township Feb. 23, 2000. Police found a loaded .32-caliber handgun in Mike's car.
Judge Stuard noted in his verdict that defense attorney James Lewis of the Ohio Public Defender's Commission did not convince him that Mike should be found innocent by reason of insanity.
For a successful insanity plea, Ohio law requires the defendant not only be insane when the crime is committed, but also must have lost understanding of the difference between right and wrong.
A psychological expert testified during the trial that Mike knew that it was wrong to commit murder.
Mike, who had been vocal during earlier court proceedings, stood silent as the judge read the sentence.
Furda's family members wrote letters to the judge urging that Mike be imprisoned as long as possible.
The letters from Furda's parents and his sister were read to the court before sentencing by Mary Jo Hoso, a victim-witness advocate with the prosecutor's office.
"I feel in my heart that Mike was not insane at the time, but a sadistic, ruthless killer," wrote Joann Koll, Furda's mother.
"I feel this man is not safe to be on the streets and should go to prison for a lifetime."
Car ride: Lewis has said that Mike met Furda at a local bar and went for a drive in Mike's car.
During the ride, the men were discussing clones and Mike became convinced that Furda was his clone, Lewis said.
The defense attorney noted that Mike believed clones had replaced his family and Mike expected he would be exonerated from the killing when police discovered he killed a clone.