Robber apologizes to victim at emotional sentencing

EVERETT — On Thursday inside a stark courtroom, a Snohomish woman showed compassion toward the man who had none for her last spring when he tied her up, threatened her and then pillaged her home.

Ryan Kugel told a judge he was sorry for the April 16 robbery. He was stealing to feed a drug addiction. Kugel, 35, said he became addicted to painkillers after an accident.

“If I could take it back, I would,” Kugel said.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden sentenced the Everett man to 4 1/2 years in prison. Kugel pleaded guilty last month to robbery, burglary and unlawful imprisonment. The judge warned Kugel that it was his responsibility to get help for his addiction. There are ample resources if Kugel truly is motivated to improve his life, Bowden said.

Later, seated at a table in the courtroom and waiting to be taken back to jail, Kugel asked his lawyer if he could turn and face the woman he terrorized. He wanted to apologize to her. The woman, clearly shaken, gave the felon his moment.

“I’m so sorry,” Kugel said, tears streaming down his face.

The woman nodded her head. She later wiped at tears.

In a letter to the judge, she described the fear she felt when she found a stranger inside her home after returning from a Bible study class. Her heart raced, her breath caught and she began to shake, she wrote.

Kugel first rolled her up in a bed comforter and demanded she not move. He later made her kneel in front of a toilet. He tied her up with her purse strap and a phone cord.

Kugel accused the woman, 70, of trying to get free to call police. He threatened to hurt her if she called the cops. She heard Kugel continue to ransack her home and load her belongings into her car.

“I have very strong faith, and knew that I was not alone,” the woman wrote.

She was able to free herself about an hour later. She called police and her husband.

Police received a tip about 12 hours later that someone named “Ryan” was bragging about having tied up and robbed a woman. Detectives confronted Kugel, who was in possession of some of the woman’s belongings. He confessed.

The woman described in her letter the property detectives weren’t able to recover after Kugel was caught — the irreplaceable family heirlooms, jewelry, silverware and a collection of poetry written by her husband’s father. They were treasures meant to be passed along to her children and grandchildren.

Kugel stole more than what he loaded up in her vehicle, though. The woman was robbed of her peace of mind and her trust in people. She was left feeling anxious and out of control. She is hypervigilant and restless. She becomes rattled when unknown cars pull into her driveway or people come to the door. Sometime the fear freezes her.

The woman told Bowden that she was grateful for the support she has received from her family, friends and church.

“I am slowly moving from victim to survivor,” she wrote.

Before Thursday’s hearing, the woman held hands with the three other women who accompanied her. They bowed their heads in prayer.

The woman wrote in her letter that she prays Kugel pays his debt, faces his problems and breaks free from his drug addiction.

“I pray that he will take time for soul-searching, resulting in a decision to return to his roots of Christianity and to the God that has never stopped loving him and who will always be there for him,” she wrote.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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