Johnathan Moore is the fourth and final robber to admit his guilt
Before being sentenced to 10 years in prison, Zachary Tiggs said he felt remorseful for his actions on July 11, when he and three accomplices held up Newbury Pharmacy owners Colleen and Bob Martin at gunpoint.
During his sentencing Monday afternoon, Tiggs, 21, of Detroit, told Geauga County Common Pleas Court Judge David Fuhry he truly regretted his “unlawful actions” and now sees how what he did could emotionally and mentally affect the victims.
Tiggs, Rashad Muhammad, 17, also of Detroit, Johnathan Moore, 25, of Ashtabula, and Joshua Moore, 20, of Kingsville, were all arrested this summer on various charges involving the robbery at 10758 Kinsman Road.
Tiggs — who acted as a decoy, distracting Colleen while Muhammad held a .38 special handgun to Bob’s head as they stole various narcotics — pleaded guilty to complicity to commit aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, in October.
Monday afternoon, Tiggs, his mother, Corlis Harris, and Colleen all gave statements to the court regarding what they felt would be an appropriate sentence.
Colleen didn’t believe Tiggs or any of the other men who robbed her and her husband felt remorse.
“All they wanted was the drugs and money. They were selfish with their acts,” she said. “The dreams my husband has, reliving this every single day, every time the door opens in our store, thinking, ‘Are we going to get robbed again? Are we going to get shot this time?’ He has imposed fear in our lives like you wouldn’t believe and that fear has not gone away. It has not and will not.”
Tiggs’ attorney, Casey O’Brien, argued his client has no prior criminal record, he “fell in with the wrong crowd,” made a “horrible decision that’s going to affect him the rest of his life,” did not have a firearm on him during the robbery and wasn’t an aggressor.
He said Johnathan was the main coordinator of the robbery.
Next, Harris apologized on behalf of her entire family to Newbury Township for her son’s actions.
“I apologize on our behalf because each individual’s actions and deeds are representative and reflective of us as the unit,” she said. “What he did was wrong and he must be held accountable for his role in this shameful crime.”
Harris said her son has a lot of growing up to do.
“We were very disappointed that he would not only associate himself with individuals who would commit such a crime let alone be a participant as well,” Harris told the judge. “I thank God no one was physically harmed.”
She added her son has had time to reflect upon his “bad, bad decisions” since being jailed.
“He has committed himself to making sure that that was his last and only time being on the wrong side of the law. We know there is a debt to be paid to society for his actions” Harris said. “Zach has taken the first step toward repaying his debt by admitting his guilt.”
She asked the court for leniency in sentencing her son, suggesting his choices were the actions of an immature and desperate young man.
Harris told Fuhry her son has committed to turning this negative event in his life into something positive, and that he has the ongoing support of a “close kin family.”
O’Brien asked that Fuhry give Tiggs the mandatory three-year prison sentence on the gun specification and not sentence him to prison for the underlying robbery.
But Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz painted a different picture, taking exception to Tiggs’ version of events.
“It’s the state’s position that (Tiggs’) motive was primarily financial,” Flaiz said. “What I find most important is after this robbery was committed, they split up the pills and Mr. Tiggs took some of them back to Detroit with him, so I don’t feel like he was pressured into this or threatened into his. He came down into our community from Detroit to commit this robbery”
He added, “This crime has really shocked our community. It’s had a profound impact on the victims and while I certainly understand that the defendant did take responsibility after he was caught … I don’t think the court can ignore what happened here — that a loaded gun was put in the hand of a 17-year-old, they victimized a mom and pop pharmacy here in our community, to steal narcotics to traffic and make a profit.”
Flaiz recommended a 10-year prison sentence in addition to the mandatory three years for the gun specification.
Fuhry thanked everyone for their statements and said he does recall reading in the pre-sentence investigation report how Tiggs felt remorse, but it was remorse over his fear of suffering “severe consequences,” including a possible loss of his own life.
There was no expression of remorse for the victims in that statement, he said.
“I think this entire act was, as has been stated, selfish yes, more so it was cowardly,” Fuhry said, adding he doesn’t believe Johnathan twisted Tiggs’ arm and he had numerous opportunities to back out or “fink” on Johnathan.
“You could have gone to your family, you had a good family,” the judge said. “I don’t believe it. It just doesn’t add up at all.”
While Tiggs has not been charged with any drug abuse in the past, Fuhry said he admitted during the preliminary investigation to being high during the robbery and to having a history of drug abuse with marijuana, Oxycontin, Xanax, ecstasy, codine and using alcohol with Xanax.
“You admitted … when you are released from any incarceration, you would probably go back to drug use,” Fuhry said.
He added the firearm involved in the robbery was “no decoy gun, this was the real thing.”
“This was a loaded gun. It was no plastic squirt gun. This was stuck in someone’s face … in a loved one’s face,” Fuhry said. “This was an organized criminal activity. You guys scripted this. Maybe the Moores had more … maybe they hatched the initial plot. It doesn’t matter. You and your cohort, Mr. Muhammad, you were involved, you played key roles in this. You were the hands on guys. You share a large measure of culpability.”
He said the fact Tiggs has no criminal record coupled with the fact he came from a good family life makes the entire thing “baffling” to him.
“You had the chance, you’re an adult. You had the chance to back up and say, ‘I’m not getting involved in this, I’m out of here’ and doing the right thing,” Fuhry said. “You didn’t do it.”
Flaiz asked the court to have Tiggs pay one-fourth of the Martins’ $500 insurance deductible, or $125.
Fuhry ordered Tiggs to pay $125 in restitution to the pharmacy before handed down a seven-year prison sentence on top of the mandatory three-year prison term for the attached firearm specification.
“You will be over 30 when you get out and I hope while you’re in prison, you take advantage of whatever you can,” Fuhry said.
Johnathan Moore, who appeared before Fuhry earlier Monday, pleaded guilty to his part in the robbery, which included giving Muhammad the loaded handgun and, along with Joshua, providing the get-away vehicle.
Moore plead guilty to complicity to commit aggravated robbery (with a firearm specification), a first-degree felony; tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony; and furnishing weapons to a minor, a fifth-degree felony.
The first count carries a sentence of three to 11 years in prison and an up to $20,000 fine. The second count carries a possible nine-month to three-year prison sentence and an up to $10,000 fine. The third count carries a possible six-month to 12-month prison sentence and an up to $2,5000 fine.
Muhammad and Joshua, who have both already pleaded guilty to their roles in the robbery, are scheduled to be sentenced in January.
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