LIMA — A Michigan man who pleaded guilty in October to robbing a convenience store at knifepoint and threatening a clerk by vowing to “gut you like a fish” was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison.
John Morici, 54, of Eastpoint, Michigan, pleaded guilty in October to robbing the Dairy Market convenience store on West Kibby Street in Lima on April 13. When he appeared Dec. 9 for sentencing, Morici asked for a new attorney and requested to be allowed to withdraw a previous plea of guilty to a first-degree felony charge of aggravated robbery and instead proceed to trial.
Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser denied that motion in late February and set a new sentencing date.
According to court documents, Morici entered the Dairy Market on April 13 and handed the clerk a note with instructions to put tobacco products into a bag. The clerk reportedly told the man he would first have to produce money to pay for the products. The report says Morici grabbed the bag and began walking toward the exit when a second clerk intercepted him. Morici reportedly then produced a knife and told the clerk to get out of the way or he would “gut him like a fish.”
Morici entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity but was subsequently determined by doctors at the Forensic Psychiatry Center of Western Ohio in Dayton to be competent to stand trial. Two evaluations of Morici’s mental health were conducted, examining both his competency to stand trial and his mental state at the time of the alleged incident.
In court on Thursday, Morici told the judge he was “off his meds” and was “not myself” when the incident occurred. His new attorney, Thomas Lucente, asked the judge to sentence his client to community controls that included a stay at the WORTH Center.
Kohlrieser, however, said prison was appropriate based on Morici’s lengthy “history of criminal convictions.”