A convicted gunman had his 20-year sentence cut in half yesterday by a panel of Anne Arundel Circuit judges who said the sentence was "unduly harsh."
Eugene A. Washington, 22, of Annapolis asked for the review of a sentence he received for assault with intent to murder, use of a handgun in a felony and reckless endangerment. The shooting occurred outside an Annapolis recreation center.
In their decision, Judges Bruce C. Williams, H. Chester Goudy Jr. and Warren B. Duckett Jr. noted that no one was injured in the shooting and that Washington said he wasn't aiming at anyone when he fired.
William Mulford II, the prosecutor, said he was disappointed with the panel's decision.
"In criminal law, you punish more for the potential for harm than for the actual harm, and in this case the potential for harm was so extreme," he said.
Washington, of the 200 block of Parker Ave., was convicted Feb. 6, 1993, after a shooting incident outside the Stanton Community Center on West Washington Street.
Darryl Neal, a building contractor, testified that on the night of the shooting, he had called police at midnight because some cars were blocking his truck.
When he went outside to wait for the police, Washington came up to him and told him to move his truck. He said he refused and told Washington he was waiting for the police.
Mr. Neal said Washington threatened him, stepped to one side of him and pointed a gun at him. Mr. Neal ducked, then heard what sounded like a gunshot, according to testimony.
Yesterday, assistant public defender Keith Gross, who had asked for the review, called the reduced sentence "a fair and just decision." He argued that the prosecution never established that Washington fired at Mr. Neal.
He said Mr. Neal and his wife, Margaret, only said they heard what sounded like a shot. They did not say they saw the gun fired. "It could have been fired in the air, or the pistol could have backfired," he said.
He also noted that when the original sentence was imposed, Washington's only other criminal conviction was for malicious destruction of property. "The sentence here really did not fit the crime in this case," Mr. Gross said.
Washington also is serving a 12-year concurrent sentence from an unrelated case in which he pleaded guilty to assault with intent to murder for shooting someone in the mouth.