KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A man with serious mental issues who stabbed a dean at a Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City shortly before Gov. Jay Nixon was scheduled to speak has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Casey Brezik, 25, was sentenced Monday for the Sept. 14, 2010, attack on Al Dimmit Jr., dean of instruction at the community college system's Penn Valley campus. Chancellor Mark James was slightly injured while pulling Brezik away from Dimmit. Brezik, of Raytown, pleaded guilty in February to one count of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action.
Nixon's plane had landed in Kansas City but he had not arrived on campus when the attack occurred.
Most of Monday's hearing focused on Brezik's history of psychological problems, which included depression, attention deficit hyperactivity and schizophrenia, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/19lHcS6 ). On the day of the attack, he had been awake for three days and using alcohol and marijuana, and he was in such an altered state that he doesn't remember much about the attack.
Brezik's mother, Heather Brezik, said her son became so delusional that at one time he thought he was Jesus Christ reincarnated.
His illness also caused him to be profoundly paranoid about the government, and seeing a podium prepared for Nixon's visit triggered Brezik's reaction, said clinical psychologist Jeanette Simmons.
"Based on my conversations with him, it was not a planned event," Simmons testified. "It was a tragic event, the culmination of a thousand little things coming from his untreated mental illness."
Brezik ran from a computer lab and stabbed Dimmitt in the neck, thinking he had stabbed the governor, before James wrestled the knife away.
Dimmitt said he still suffers from vertigo and thinks about the attack every day.
"It has impacted my general sense of well-being," Dimmitt said. "I think regularly of the experiences of my family."
James said the school also is still dealing with the stabbing.
"The event traumatized many on our campus," James said. "It robbed the campus of its innocence that day."
Michael Hunt, an assistant Jackson County prosecutor, pressed for a life sentence. He said Brezik told police after the attack that he had wanted to use an assault rifle so he could do more damage. "But all he had was a knife, so he stuck it in Al Dimmitt's neck."
Defense lawyer David Suroff said Brezik made the statements while he was delusional.
"His mental health issues are genuine, and they're being treated," Suroff said. "An extended prison sentence is not right for Casey Brezik."
Judge John Torrence rejected Suroff's suggestion that Brezik should receive a 120-day treatment sentence followed by five years of probation. But he said Brezik's mental health issues made a life sentence inappropriate.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com