BARTOW (FOX 13) - After a judge declined to reduce the prison sentence for a teacher convicted of having sex with students, tensions erupted in a courtroom hallway.
Last year, Jennifer Fichter was sentenced to 22 years in prison on more than 30 charges. She had admitted having sex with several of her students, leading the judge at the time to call her a predator.
After serving nearly a year and a half behind bars, Fichter wanted her sentence reduced. Today, her attorneys argued that the former Central Florida Aerospace Academy teacher can't get appropriate treatment in prison.
An expert witness claimed Fichter had emotional issues, an eating disorder, and may have been sexually abused as a child.
"I think what you have is you have an accumulation of factors that, no single factor alone, but the accumulation of factors leads to these kinds of what most of consider odd, unusual behaviors," Dr. Richard Marshall offered.
The state, though, pointed out the expert witness never even met Fichter; he just studied transcripts from the trial.
The assistant state attorney also reminded the judge that Fichter could actually have been sentenced to over 200 years in prison because she pleaded guilty to 37 counts.
Judge Glenn Shelby took about 10 minutes to consider each side, then declined to reduce Fichter's sentence.
"The particular crimes that were pled to showed a violation of that trust that we, as a society, place in teachers," he explained.
Outside court, emotion spilled over when the family of one of the victims apologized to Fichter's family. A woman -- apparently Fichter's mother -- lashed out in response.
"Is your son alive?" she asked the victim's family. "My daughter is not. You've taken her life away."