A 24-year-old Glen Burnie woman was sentenced to 14 years in prison yesterday for stealing a gun, driving to her ex-boyfriend's house and shooting it up because he refused to return her clothes.
Sherry Ann Pappas was sentenced yesterday in a two-hour hearing where her attorney said that she never meant to hurt anyone, but that an abusive stepfather and a decade of drug abuse had pushed her over the edge.
"Did she really intend to murder, or was it a case where she was wild and reckless, out of her mind?" asked Assistant Public Defender Robert Waldman. "There was not that clearly formed intent to murder."
But Assistant State's Attorney William C. Mulford II pointed out that the two men in the house she shot at could have been killed, that she has refused drug treatment since 1978 and admitted to a probation agent that she "binges on PCP when events in her life depress her.
"Very easily, Roger Loveless and Michael Smith could have been killed, and I don't know if Ms. Pappas accepts that," he said.
Judge Lawrence Rushworth said Pappas' previous convictions, for drunken driving and drug possession, point to a consistent course of "lawlessness" that he could not condone.
"You obviously had a tough time growing up," Judge Rushworth said. "But one thing is assured, you certainly are a loose cannon at this time."
The judge was required by state statute to sentence Pappas to at least five years for the handgun conviction.
After the sentence, David Chesser, a friend of Pappas' from Owings Mills, called the term "excessive." He said the judge should have considered her attempts to stay away from the PCP that triggered the attack.
"This woman is desperately trying to recover, and now she's being denied that right to recover," he said.
A jury of 10 women and two men convicted Pappas of assault with intent to murder, assault and handgun violations Jan. 25 after a two-day trial. She admitted to firing four shots into the house she had shared with her boyfriend last May.
Pappas had gotten into a fight a few days before the May 8 shooting with her boyfriend, Michael M. Smith, 29, at the house they shared in the 6400 block of Colonial Knoll Road in Glen Burnie.
Police officers called by Mr. Smith told Pappas she had to leave the house because Mr. Smith had purchased it and it was in his name.
As she walked away, police ran a records check that showed she had an outstanding warrant. Pappas spent the next two days in the Prince George's County Detention Center, on a parole violation that later turned out to be a mistake, according to testimony.
When she was released from the jail, she called Mr. Smith several times, asking when she could pick up her clothes. She made the last call about 2 a.m., when the two got into a shouting match and she said that she was coming over whether he intended to let her in or not.
Roger Loveless, a friend of Mr. Smith's, testified that he came over to the home because of threats Pappas made. The two men slept on the couch with a handgun between them, Mr. Loveless testified.
On her way to Mr. Smith's house, she stopped at an acquaintance's house in Severn, broke a basement window and took a $700 .45-caliber semiautomatic Colt pistol.
All four shots were fired into the first floor while Mr. Smith was in a second-floor bedroom, but one of the bullets passed over Mr. Loveless' head.