By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Melissa Larosa stood in the courtroom with pins and screws in her jaw thanks to Fredrick R. Smith III.
Part of her face is numb, she has trouble eating and has to drink through a straw, she said. She believed he was going to kill her on May 20, the day Smith’s aggression landed Larosa in the hospital and himself in jail.
But, Larosa said she was taking some of the blame for her predicament.
“I aggravated him as much as he aggravated me,” she told Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John.
While Larosa did not expect that the two could ever have a romantic relationship again, she still loves him and Smith’s absence is having a damaging effect on her daughter - who is not Smith’s daughter - and his children, she said.
Larosa asked that Smith be allowed to go free, and that he be allowed to have contact with her daughter.
“I feel he’s served his time,” she said. “He’s been in there almost a year.”
Greenville-West Salem Township police arrested Smith, 31, formerly of Greenville. Smith and Larosa were drinking at a bar when Smith accused Larosa of being unfaithful, she said. She was leaving the bar to deliver a hoodie to her daughter, and told Smith that if he didn’t believe her, he could follow her.
The argument continued in the car and Smith tried to pull the keys from the ignition, she said. He pushed her, she slapped him and then Smith, a mixed martial arts fighter, assaulted her.
Larosa said she had slapped Smith earlier in the day.
Smith pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to a charge of aggravated assault.
Assistant Mercer County District Attorney Brian Farrone said he “wholeheartedly disagrees” with Larosa’s sentiment that Smith should go free without any additional punishment.
Sometimes, the state has to protect victims from themselves, he said, and always has a duty to protect all citizens from violence, not just the victims.
“I’m embarrassed and ashamed that it happened again,” Smith said, referring to an earlier conviction for simple assault, again with Larosa as the victim.
“You have a strange way of treating the people you love,” St. John said.
Smith said he had drunk a half gallon of vodka prior to going to the bar, and St. John pointed out that evaluations indicated he has issues with alcohol, heroin and pills, and suffers from poor anger management and adjustment disorder.
Smith said Larosa has sent him many letters while he was in jail, but he hasn’t answered any of them.
“I’m afraid something would happen,” if he tried to get back together with her, he said.
Assistant Public Defender Daniel P. Wallace said Smith has no memory of the night and asked for long-term probation.
St. John sided with Farrone in sentencing Smith to 2è to 10 years in state prison.
“She’s tremendously at risk for substantial injury or death from you,” the judge said.
St. John also ordered Smith to pay $2,200 restitution for damage to the car.