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Published: Friday, 6/16/2006

Cathcart guilty in murder at restaurant

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Chris Cathcart leaves the courtroom in shackles. Chris Cathcart leaves the courtroom in shackles.
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A Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury yesterday convicted Chris Cathcart for the shooting death of an employee during the after-hours robbery 11 years ago of the former Pacific CrabHouse restaurant in Maumee.

Cathcart wept quietly as a court bailiff read the jury's guilty verdicts of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, and seven counts of kidnapping.

The jurors emerged from deliberations about 2 p.m. with the announcement that they reached a decision in Cathcart's trial, which began Monday.

The aggravated murder conviction was for the shooting death of Larry Loose, a 55-year-old dishwasher from Bowling Green who prosecutors said was shot by an accomplice, Jamie Madrigal.

The five male jurors and seven female jurors deliberated about six hours over two days. They showed no hesitation in confirming their guilty verdicts when they were polled by Judge James Bates.

Judge Bates immediately imposed sentences of 20 years to life in prison for the aggravated murder conviction, 10 to 25 years for aggravated robbery, and 5 to 25 years for the kidnapping offenses.

"To be real honest with you, if I felt that I could give you more time I would give you more time than I have given you today,'' Judge Bates said. "I am hoping that you never get out of jail."

The sentences for the murder, the kidnappings, and armed robbery were ordered to run consecutively to one another, and each of the sentences carried gun specifications that will add nine years to the punishment.

The dishwasher's widow, Barbara Loose; his brother, Chester Loose, and Carol Fitzwater, a sister-in-law, reacted calmly, but appeared pleased with the verdicts. However, Chester Loose, a retired Air Force veteran, later began sobbing as he sat in a courtroom chair.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Loose resisted be-coming emotional as he talked about his older brother. "He could never be replaced. He was a very special person. My brother could teach us all some lessons about values and about life,'' he said.

Some of Cathcart's supporters walked out of the courtroom as the first guilty verdict was announced.

Cathcart, 33, is currently serving 10 to 25 years for the homicide of Misty Fisher during the April 12, 1996, robbery of a South Toledo KFC. The sentences for the new conviction will begin after he completes the sentence for the 1996 crime.

The 18-year-old Clay High School student was shot in the back of the head while she was on her knees attempting to open a locked safe for Madrigal, who robbed the fast-food restaurant while Cathcart waited in the get-away car.

Madrigal, 31, is not charged in the Pacific CrabHouse homicide-robbery. He will be retried for killing Miss Fisher in the KFC robbery because of a federal appellate court ruling last year that overturned the death-penalty conviction. He is scheduled to be retried Aug. 7.

When asked whether an indictment would be sought against Madrigal in the death of Mr. Loose, county Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Braun replied: "It is not the policy of this office to let people get away with murder. But we are dealing with the KFC murder first."

Before his client was sentenced, defense attorney Donald Cameron said Cathcart was maintaining his innocence in the crimes, and that being imprisoned for nearly a third of his life allowed him to turn his life around.

"Upon meeting Mr. Cathcart, the first the thing that he said to me was, 'I am not the same person that I was 10 years ago,'‚óŹ" Mr. Cameron said. "I think that he is a different person."

The night of the CrabHouse robbery, Mr. Loose should not have been there but was asked to work late because Madrigal, who also was a dishwasher, had called in sick. Cathcart had been fired from the restaurant earlier for missing work.

According to trial testimony, the defendant and Madrigal entered a back door that another dishwasher, Khary Phenix, had earlier propped open to allow the robbers inside. Phenix admitted to opening the door so they could rob his employer.

Once inside, Cathcart rounded up bartender Craig Tammerine, an assistant manager, waitresses, and their friends and held them at gunpoint, forced them into a restroom, and shot Mr. Tammerine in the leg as he lay face down on the floor.

Phenix testified that Madrigal put a 38-caliber pistol to his head and was taking him from the kitchen when Madrigal confronted Mr. Loose.

He said Madrigal pointed the loaded weapon just inches from the dishwasher's face and repeatedly ordered him to raise his hands.

He said the victim told Madrigal three times to remove the gun from his face and that Madrigal then shot him. The bullet ripped into the victim's neck, piercing two major arteries, causing him to bleed to death within minutes on the kitchen floor.

The gunmen fled with $15,000 to $20,000 after ordering the assistant manager at gunpoint to empty a locked safe in the office.

Mr. Tammerine, who was one of four restaurant employees who testified during the trial, made a brief statement to the court before the judge imposed the punishment.

"In sentencing the defendant, I ask that you show the same type of compassion for his sentence that he showed that night to me when he shot me lying on the bathroom floor,'' he said.

In a later interview, Mr. Cameron said that Cathcart and his family were extremely disappointed with the verdicts.

"I believe that he is a changed person, and that it is a shame that it came to this 10 years after he was sentenced for the KFC robbery and murder,'' he said.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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