TRUMBULL COUNTY Liberty man is guilty of voluntary manslaughter
A judge said he did not believe Phil Mike should be found innocent by reason of insanity.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A judge has ruled that a man who says he killed his own clone is innocent of aggravated murder.
Judge John Stuard ruled Tuesday that Phil Mike, 36, of Liberty, is guilty of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery. The judge, however, acquitted Mike of a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.
Mike was accused of beating and hacking to death Joe Furda, 40, of Youngstown, in a wooded area of Liberty Township Feb. 23, 2000. Mike had pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. Police said Mike had a loaded .32-caliber handgun in his car.
Judge Stuard, however, found that defense attorney James Lewis, of the Ohio Public Defender's Commission, did not show Mike should be found innocent by reason of insanity.
Requirements: For a successful insanity plea, Ohio law requires the defendant not only be insane when he or she commits a crime but also have lost understanding of the difference between right and wrong.
A psychological expert testified during the trial that he believes Mike knew the it was wrong to commit murder.
Lewis said Mike met Furda at a local bar and the two were driving in Mike's car. During the drive, the men were discussing clones, and Mike became convinced that Furda was a 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.
Lewis had decided to have the judge preside over the trial instead of a jury. The trial began June 11 and ended Friday.
Decision: The judge released his ruling during a brief hearing Monday. He declined to comment on his decision except to say Mike would be sentenced after a background check by the county adult probation department.
Attys. Sarah Kovoor and Ken Bailey, assistant Trumbull County prosecutors, said Mike could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
"I have no problem with the judge's verdict," Lewis said.
Mike, who showed no emotion when the verdict was read, asked Lewis, "What the verdict mean?" Lewis said he is going to meet with his client soon and discuss the verdict and Mike's options.
Joe Mike, Philip Mike's brother, said the family is "very sorry" the murder took place.
"Our hearts go out to the Furda family," Joe Mike said. He added that he hopes when his brother is sent to prison he will get help for his mental illness.