Public Safety

Iowa City man who caused fatal crash in suicide attempt may not be competent to stand trial

Judge orders him to undergo mental evaluation

IOWA CITY — A man accused of intentionally driving the wrong way on Interstate 80 to kill himself last month and causing the death of a Texas man will undergo a psychological evaluation, and his court case will be on hold.

A lawyer for Stephen D. Lucore, 32, of Iowa City, charged with first-degree murder earlier this month, asked for the evaluation, saying his client had a long history of “mental disorder and treatment.”

In just weeks before the fatal crash, Lucore was removed from a rooftop of a parking ramp before he could jump and was hospitalized, his Iowa City lawyer, John Bruzek, said.

Bruzek said in a motion that Lucore last week was uncooperative in planning his defense and had “uncontrolled outbursts” on more than one occasion, which is due to his inability to understand his situation and possibly the result of “delusions or other disorder affecting his thinking and ability to make decisions.”

Lucore’s arraignment on the charge was set for last Friday, but Bruzek said he didn’t think his client was competent to make that decision.

Assistant Johnson County Attorney Jeffrey Brunelle said he did not object to Bruzek’s request for a competency evaluation.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Jason Besler this week granted the delay to allow the evaluation. He ordered Lucore undergo an inpatient competency evaluation at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville.

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Besler, in his order, also authorized the psychologist to prescribe and administer any medications necessary to complete Lucore’s evaluation and treatment.

A hearing is set for Sept. 20 in Johnson County District Court to determine Lucore’s competency at that time.

Lucore also is charged with four counts of willful injury, along with original counts of homicide by vehicle and serious injury by vehicle.

A criminal complaint shows Lucore, about 9:30 p.m. June 16 drove his Hyundai Sonata the wrong way on I-80 and caused a head-on collision with a Honda Pilot driven by David Sawyer, 31, of Frisco, Texas.

Sawyer’s passenger, Robert Sawyer, 64, of Nocona, Texas, died in the crash.

The complaint also shows Lucore caused serious or bodily injury to David Sawyer and to others in Sawyer’s sport utility vehicle — Luz Mercedes Cuevas Gallardo, 58, and to “D.S.” and “L.S.,” as they are identified in the complaint.

Authorities said Lucore was driving without headlights on the darkened highway when he crashed into Sawyer’s vehicle between Tiffin and Oxford. He said he was trying to kill himself, according to criminal complaints.

Lucore was driving 80 mph at the time of the crash and was not wearing a seat belt, an Iowa State Patrol report showed.

At the time, Lucore was on probation for a domestic abuse conviction. A woman said Lucore sat on her while attempting to strangle her in August 2017, according to a criminal complaint. The woman told police he also covered her mouth and nose to prevent her from breathing.

Lucore was sentenced to two years of probation and received a deferred judgment in that case.

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A probation revocation hearing is set for Nov. 18. Probation officials are recommending his probation be revoked and that he serve two years in prison, according to court documents.

Lucore remains in jail on a $1 million bail..

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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