The trial of Chris Cathcart for the robbery 11 years ago of a Maumee restaurant in which an employee was fatally shot began yesterday with prosecutors telling jurors that Cathcart's accomplice was Jamie Madrigal.
Cathcart, 33, is accused in the shooting death of Larry Loose, a dishwasher, during the robbery of the former Pacific CrabHouse Restaurant in Maumee.
However, Timothy Braun, an assistant county prosecutor, told a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury they will hear testimony that the robbery was committed by Cathcart and Madrigal, who both had ties to the restaurant.
"The state is saying Chris Cathcart is responsible for the death of Larry Loose. But we will also tell you that the person who actually shot him was Jamie Madrigal," Mr. Braun said during opening statements.
Madrigal is not charged for either the robbery or the murder.
Mr. Loose, 55, was shot once in the head after two masked gunmen entered through a rear door about 10:30 p.m. April 30, 1995, shortly after the restaurant closed. A bartender, Craig Tammarine, was shot in the leg but survived.
Both men had close ties to the restaurant; Madrigal was working there as a dishwasher but called in sick that night. Cathcart had been fired recently.
Mr. Braun told the jury that a man who was working as a dishwasher will testify that he allowed Cathcart and Madrigal into the restaurant through a back door used only by employees.
He said the dishwasher, Khary Phenix, had joined in planning the robbery and was given money several days later in return for his help. Phenix, who is expected to testify today, pleaded guilty last week to obstructing justice for lying to investigators.
Cathcart and Madrigal emerged as suspects after they were arrested in the shooting death of 18-year-old Misty Fisher during the robbery of a South Toledo KFC in April, 1996. Both men had worked in that restaurant.
Miss Fisher was on her knees trying to open the safe when she was shot in the head. Cathcart was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Madrigal was sentenced to death for aggravated murder, but his conviction was overturned on appeal. A new trial is scheduled for August.
In addition to aggravated murder, Cathcart is also charged with aggravated robbery and seven counts of kidnapping for allegedly holding employees of the Pacific CrabHouse Restaurant at gunpoint.
He was indicted last year after media interest in the 10-year anniversary of the crime provided new information, causing investigators to interview several witnesses again.
Tonya Carr, an attorney representing Cathcart, said in her opening statement that none of the employees were able to identify her client in 1995, and it was only after Madrigal became a suspect that investigators tried to link Cathcart to the Pacific CrabHouse robbery.
She also told the jurors that other former employees who were fired had motives to rob the restaurant.
Mr. Tammarine was one of three employees at the former restaurant who testified yesterday in the courtroom of Judge James Bates about the events of that night.
He said he was in the bar area when a gunman wearing a ski masked appeared and herded him and other employees into a rest room. He said he was shot in the leg when he didn't respond quickly enough.
Mr. Tammarine pointed to Cathcart and identified him as the man who shot him during the robbery.
He said he picked out Cathcart in a photo array during an interview with Maumee police about a year after the robbery, and told a detective then he was "99 percent" sure that Cathcart did it.
He said he again recognized Cathcart as the gunman when he appeared in the media in connection with the KFC shooting, causing him to call police. He said he told detectives Cathcart exhibited the same gait, build, and facial features as the man who robbed the restaurant. "There is no doubt that is him," he said.
The jurors also heard from Amy Malek, a waitress. She said the gunman who forced her and the others into a bathroom demanded a cell phone, as though he knew one could be located. She said at that time, a cell phone was relatively rare.
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