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TRUMBULL CO. Brother: Murder suspect wasn't a violent person



Published: Tue, June 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The prosecutor is seeking to show that Phil Mike knew right from wrong at the timeof the killing.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

WARREN -- Phil Mike, on trial in the killing of a man he said was his clone, was an advertisement of someone managing mental illness.

Mike was diagnosed as being schizophrenic when he was in his early 20s and has been hospitalized a half-dozen times for the disease, said his brother, Dr. John Mike, a child and adolescent psychologist in Clearwater, Fla.

The 36-year-old Liberty man lived on his own and helped with a support group for manic-depressives at Forum Health Northside Medical Center, his brother told The Vindicator on Monday.

He contributed his life story for a fund-raising project for the group and appeared in a television commercial that reminded people suffering from mental illness that they were not alone, his brother said.

"He has never been violent, he has never even been in a fight with anyone," said Dr. Mike, who was to testify for the defense today at his brother's trial in Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas.

Played pool at local bar: For fun, Philip Mike occasionally played pool at the Blue Light Restaurant and Lounge on Belmont Avenue, at one point ranking first in an 80-person league, according to courtroom testimony.

He had a drink there with Joe Furda on Feb. 23, 2000. Defense and prosecuting attorneys agree that later that night, Mike killed the 40-year-old Furda.

The Youngstown man's body, face crushed, throat bones broken and the rear of his neck slashed, was found in a wooded area in Liberty. Any one of these injuries could have caused death, medical examiner Humphrey Germanick testified.

Mike was pulled over by an officer on routine patrol a few hours before the body was discovered. He was bloody and the officer found a three-foot sword, handcuffs, badge and loaded handgun in the car.

Mike has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity to aggravated murder. The case will be decided by Judge John Stuard, without a jury.

"There is no doubt as to who killed [Furda]. "Whether he was sane or not is the matter of dispute," assistant prosecutor Sarah Kovoor told the judge in opening statements Monday.

Last June, Judge Stuard found Mike incompetent to stand trial after he announced at his arraignment that Furda was a clone.

Determined to be capable: Mike was sent to a mental health facility for several months and was released in October after officials determined he is able to aid in his own defense.

Mike has also claimed to hold an ambassadorship from the governor and to be a member of Other Planetary Life and Entities. He has a tattoo reading "When dead, burn this body and bone," Kovoor said.

Although Mike is schizophrenic, he knew the difference between right and wrong at the time of the killing and is legally culpable for his actions, Kovoor argued before the judge.

"He was calm, he was collected," she said. "In the end, we will show that this was a fight, the victim lost and [Mike] tried to cut his head off."

Dr. Mike said his brother was off his medication at the time of the killing and upset at learning that a nephew had just been diagnosed with leukemia.

Earlier that day, he had visited the nephew in the hospital, where he lay stuck with tubes, recovering from chemotherapy, Dr. Mike said.

If acquitted by reason of insanity, Mike could be committed to an institution until he is deemed cured.

"We hope he gets put in a mental facility for long-term treatment," his brother said.

siff@vindy.com




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