Man Sentenced To Life In Prison In Landlord's Death

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - A 19-year-old convicted of killing his landlord has avoided a death sentence.

A jury chose life in prison for James Allan Schaar, of Orrville, who was found guilty last week of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery in the death of Gary Stoll, 63, of Massillon.

Some jurors said Schaar's age and abusive childhood were key reasons they spared his life. They said they denied him a chance at parole because they doubt he can be reformed. Stoll was robbed and stabbed in the neck.

Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles Brown added a 10-year prison term for the aggravated robbery charge.

Schaar told police he had been in the victim's home Oct. 18 because he wanted a rent receipt.

He said he and Stoll were climbing the basement stairs when Stoll grabbed his buttocks. Schaar pushed him down the stairs and thought Stoll had broken his neck.

Police said he then stole baseball memorabilia, cash and a coin collection, among other items.

The Stark County coroner's office found little evidence of injuries resulting from a fall down the stairs and determined that the cause of death was a stab wound to the neck.

"My brother didn't have to die like that," Jim Stoll said after the courtroom emptied. "(Schaar) is just a young kid. It sort of makes me sad. My brother would have given him the stuff he took."

Schaar's mother, Virginia Poling, believes her son is innocent and that the case against him was weak.

"We will have justice," she said. "He didn't get the death sentence. That holds us up with hope."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)