By Shelley Grieshop
WAPAKONETA -- St. Marys man Nicholas Schweitzer, 23, will serve the next 15 years in prison for critically stabbing a teenage boy who was dating the girl Schweitzer claimed to love.
Schweitzer, dressed in a suit and tie, showed little emotion as the sentence was ordered Friday morning in a crowded Auglaize County courtroom in Wapakoneta. At times he shook his head in agreement with Judge Frederick Pepple, who berated him for "planning" the stabbing of 17-year-old Sean Bowsher of Wapakoneta.
Courtney Cox, the 16-year-old girl at the center of the violent love triangle, was flanked in court by her parents. Bowsher sat next to her with his parents at his side. The families sobbed and held hands throughout much of the two and a half hour hearing.
In a plea bargain in October, Schweitzer -- who has been diagnosed with mental illness -- agreed to enter a guilty plea to a first-degree felony charge of aggravated burglary, a second-degree felony of felonious assault and fifth-degree felony of possession of criminal tools.
He originally was indicted for two counts of attempted murder. The events of May 11 began with Schweitzer purchasing a knife from Wal-Mart in Celina, and then 51 minutes later using the weapon to break into the Cox home on Clover Leaf Road and repeatedly stabbing Bowsher. Courtney Cox was not injured.
Auglaize County Prosecutor Ed Pierce played the chilling 911 tape in which Cox attempted to summon help as Schweitzer was breaking into her home.
"Someone's trying to break into our house," Cox tells the dispatcher in an urgent and tearful voice.
Seconds later she is heard pleading with Schweitzer "Don't hurt me," and "Put the knife down, please, please, stop," as Bowsher, who had already been stabbed, moans in pain in the background. The tape also reveals Schweitzer yelling at her, stating that he loves her and she is his girlfriend.
Before sentencing, Sean Bowsher's parents gave statements in court explaining how their only child had wanted to become a firefighter but his limited lung capacity and scarred hands due to the stabbing could prevent that now.
"I lost my son that day. He's not the same boy he used to be," Linda Bowsher said, unable to fight back tears. "He used to be so happy."
She said she fears for her son every time he walks out the door.
"In my heart, he (Schweitzer) had every intention of killing my son that day," she said.
Sean Bowsher said he now watches his back and fears for his entire family.
"I fear he'll come after the people I care about most," Sean Bowsher said.
Schweitzer, still in handcuffs, also gave a statement on his own behalf describing his thoughts while sitting in the Auglaize County Jail.
"Mostly I think about the people I've hurt," he said.
A former high school band member and delegate to St. Marys sister city in Japan, Schweitzer said he always considered himself outgoing with a good future ahead. Psychiatric tests, however, showed he is self-centered with psychopathic tendencies. The diagnosis, he said, was a "weight lifted off my shoulders."
"I'm very afraid of being worse. I hope I don't because I could be dangerous," he said as he began to cry.
He told the court he didn't know if long-term incarceration would be best.
"I just pray for the best outcome for everyone, but most of all I pray for your forgiveness," he told the families in the courtroom.
Schweitzer's attorney, John Poppe of Wapakoneta, asked the court to hand down a prison sentence less than 10 years so, by law, the local court could intervene and grant a judicial release if Schweitzer's mental condition improves. He suggested Schweitzer go from prison to a faith-based facility for mentally ill adults until he is able to return home.
Poppe put on the stand a clinical and forensic psychologist, Dr. Thomas Hustak of Lima, who previously examined Schweitzer and found him to have a borderline personality disorder despite the fact other experts said he was faking a mental illness.
Pepple, before ordering a 15-year sentence, said he was "unwilling to wait for more bodies to be laying around bleeding." The stabbing was all about Schweitzer's failures with young ladies who rejected him, Pepple added.
Following the hearing, Poppe told The Daily Standard he worries about Schweitzer being sent to prison right now.
"He's in a very critical stage of his disease," he said, adding the young man's motivation for early release is gone.
Pierce, at the conclusion of the hearing, said the whole event was "an unfortunate tragedy for both families" that ended with "a just sentence that serves to protect the public and victims."
Pepple also ordered Schweitzer to pay more than $102,000 in restitution to the victims -- Sean Bowsher and his parents and Cox and her parents. The majority of the amount represents about $91,000 in medical bills for Sean Bowsher who suffered a pierced lung in the assault.
Schweitzer has claimed indigence.