Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson announces Oskaloosa resident Joshaua L. Back, 34, was sentenced today in the Division Two courtroom of the Honorable Sally D. Pokorny. On April 22, a jury found Back guilty of second-degree murder for the May 25, 2015 killing of 45-year-old, Lawrence resident Tracy Dean Lautenschlager and the jury found him guilty of felony theft.
During today’s hearing, letters from the victim’s two siblings were read to the Court and the victim’s father and stepmother were in person to address the Court about the impact of losing their son. The Court then sentenced Back to 285 months for the second-degree murder conviction and 6 months to run concurrent to count one for the felony theft conviction. He will serve his sentence in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections. Upon Back’s eventual release from prison, the Court ordered he must register as a violent offender for 15 years.
Investigation into the case began on Monday, May 25, 2015 shortly after 6:00 a.m. when 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.
The Honorable Sally D. Pokorny presided over the trial and sentencing. The case was investigated by the Lawrence Police Department and the trial was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorneys Amy McGowan and Eve Kemple.