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Published: Thursday, 10/28/2010

Outburst leads to stiffer penalty for foiled robbery

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

EDITOR'S NOTE: This version corrects information regarding the relationship between Fought and Rybak.

Five angry words Christopher Fought blurted out in a courtroom cost him three more years in prison.

Two weeks after getting a six-year sentence for aggravated burglary, Fought returned to court Wednesday to appear again before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda for resentencing on the same crime. The rare hearing to modify the sentence was ordered because of a statement the 21-year-old Toledoan made to his attorney after learning his punishment for the attempted armed robbery of a woman in her West Toledo home.

His words - "I should've killed that b____" - may have gone unnoticed to Judge Zmuda and others in the courtroom, but the judge's court reporter and a security officer heard Fought's statement.

After hearing a tearful apology from Fought and reading some of the transcript from the Oct. 13 sentencing, the judge stiffened the penalty to nine years, a year shy of the maximum he could get for the first-degree felony.

"Your lack of remorse and your indication that you really wish you would have done more harm to the victim leads me to conclude that you are a significantly greater danger of risk to our community than when I imposed the six years," the judge said.

The conviction stems from the July 5 burglary in which Fought and two other men opened a window to enter the home of Jennifer Rybak.

The intruders, whose faces were covered to conceal their identities, threatened the victim and her boyfriend and demanded money.

But the crime was foiled when Fought, who was brandishing a handgun, was recognized by Ms. Rybak after the bandanna fell off his face. The trio fled the residence with the victim's cell phone.

Judge Zmuda said the crime was especially troubling because Ms. Rybak's boyfriend considered Fought to be a friend.

"She begged and pleaded to you not to do any harm to her because she had her kids in her home that she can provide for," Judge Zmuda said. Neither Ms. Rybak nor her boyfriend was in the courtroom for the resentencing.

J. Christopher Anderson, an assistant county prosecutor, said the victim didn't want to face the defendant in court again.

Within days of the burglary, Fought turned himself in to police and was later indicted on one count each of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery, with specifications a gun was used in the crimes.

He pleaded no contest Sept. 17 to aggravated burglary.

With his attorney, Kenneth Phillips, standing by his side, Fought broke into tears as he apologized repeatedly to Judge Zmuda.

"I said some things that I shouldn't have said. I didn't mean it. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I didn't know what I was saying until I said it. I apologize," Fought said.

Judge Zmuda said, however, that he found it difficult to believe that Fought's emotional outburst was a mistake, but instead an indication of what he truly felt.

"I think it is a very clear indication, it is like a window opening up to your soul, into your heart, as to what you really feel," he said.

Before his client was resentenced, Mr. Phillips argued the statement should not be considered and that modifying the punishment would be double jeopardy.

However, Judge Zmuda ruled that the sentence handed down to Fought on Oct. 13 would commence upon his arrival in the state prison system and he had the authority to modify the sentence until then.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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