Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson announces that today a Douglas County jury convicted Oskaloosa resident Joshaua L. Back, 34, of the May 25, 2015 second-degree-murder of 45-year-old Lawrence resident Tracy Dean Lautenschlager. The jury also found him guilty of felony theft.
On Monday, May 25, 2015 shortly after 6:00 a.m., officers with the Lawrence Police Department were called to a restaurant in the 1300 block of West 6th Street in reference to a stabbing. Upon arrival, officers found the victim, later identified as Mr. Lautenschlager, collapsed in the grass outside of a restaurant. The victim was losing a large amount of blood due to a wound in his neck. Officers immediately began first aid and when paramedics with Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical arrived minutes later, they transported him to Lawrence Memorial Hospital where he received treatment, but tragically, he succumbed to his injury.
Officers in the parking lot where the victim was found noticed a blood trail that led to the south. They were able to follow the trail to a residence in the 700 block of Arkansas Street. Officers made contact with three people inside the residence and took each of them to be interviewed. Through the conversations officers had with residents, they learned the identity of others who had been in contact with the victim the prior night and into the early morning hours. It was discovered that Back was in the process of stealing a 1992 GMC Sierra pickup truck that belonged to the family of one of the residents of 700 Arkansas. When the victim confronted Back about stealing the truck, he was stabbed in the neck. Officers later learned Back admitted to his friends that he had cut a man’s throat.
Back faces a sentence of up to 493 months for the second-degree murder conviction and up to 17 months for the felony theft conviction. His actual sentence will depend on his criminal history. His sentencing hearing was scheduled for June 2 at 4:00 p.m.
The Honorable Sally D. Pokorny presided over the trial. The case was investigated by the Lawrence Police Department and the trial was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorneys Amy McGowan and Eve Kemple. The trial began on Monday, April 18, opening arguments were delivered on Tuesday and testimony continued until Thursday. Closing arguments were delivered Friday morning, the case went to the jury at approximately 10:05 a.m. and the jury deliberated for about two hours before returning its verdict.