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Man Gets Life For Bank Robberies, Killing of Police Officer

May 31, 1995

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) _ The elder half of a father-son bank robbery team who jumped out of a getaway car to kill the policeman chasing them was sentenced to more than 600 years in prison Tuesday.

``You in fact are going to die in prison,″ Circuit Judge Lee S. Dreyfus Jr. said as he gave James Oswald two life terms plus 625 years.

Oswald, 50, was sentenced less than a day after a jury convicted him of 20 felony counts for the killing, the taking of a hostage and several robberies and attempted murders. His 19-year-old son, Theodore, was previously convicted of 19 counts and will be sentenced June 6.

Tuesday’s sentencing came after slain police Capt. James Lutz’s widow, Diane Lutz, pleaded for the maximum penalty.

``One year, four weeks and three days ago we were a happy family who were suddenly thrust into that blackness,″ said Lutz, who carried a picture of her husband.

``In 14 seconds, 14 very long seconds for my husband, 14 very brutal seconds, the executioners completed their day of devastation,″ she said. ``They left my beloved to die.″

According to trial testimony, Lutz, 57, was killed on April 28, 1994, after he saw the Oswalds driving a stolen car after a bank robbery and followed them. They suddenly stopped, Lutz pulled up behind them and the pair got out and opened fire on him with semi-automatic rifles.

After Lutz was killed, the Oswalds led authorities on a chase that ended when a van they had commandeered crashed into a tree at a roadblock. A person they had taken hostage jumped out of the vehicle to safety.

The two also were convicted of robbing credit unions in February and December 1993.

Oswald, who acted as his own attorney, told the court in a rambling statement that he was convicted in a ``barbaric proceeding″ and was innocent.

At one point, he suggested the judge let him engage in ``trial by combat,″ in which he and one of Lutz’s sons would be given guns and allowed to fight for their lives, as he said prisoners did in Roman times.

``That’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life,″ District Attorney Paul Bucher said as the courtroom erupted in applause.

``Could your honor pass out the bananas, please?″ retorted Oswald, who had referred to courtroom spectators as ``simians.″

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