Judicial panel increases term in attempted murder case Review results in life plus 10 years for photographer

July 08, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A photographer who tried to kill a witness against him in a $35.96 shoplifting case had his bid for a reduced sentence turned on its head yesterday when an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judicial panel increased his term from life plus five years to life plus 10, the maximum.

"That's draconian of them," said defense attorney Gill Cochran, whose client, Wayne Resper, is to be formally resentenced July 21. "That's just juvenile."

Deputy State's Attorney William Roessler, who tried to ensure a life sentence, said he was pleased that the defendant's efforts won him a longer sentence.

Three-judge review panels in Anne Arundel infrequently tinker with the sentences meted out by their judicial colleagues and rarely do they increase a sentence.

Roessler said the only previous one he can remember was in when a panel lengthened the sentence of serial rapist Michael Armstead from two consecutive life terms to four consecutive terms.

Cochran argued to the review panel last month that his client's sentence was "unduly harsh" because it far exceeded state sentencing guidelines that recommended between 20 and 35 years. Resper told the panel that pleading guilty and expressing remorse to the victim should have won him a lenient sentence.

But Circuit Judges Eugene M. Lerner, Robert H. Heller Jr. and Lawrence H. Rushworth wrote that Resper "already received leniency by way of his plea agreement with the state." It freed him from prosecution on handgun and related charges that could have netted him another 50 years in prison.

His crime was "particularly heinous" and "cries out for the maximum permissible sentence," the judges wrote.

Resper pleaded guilty in March to attempted first-degree murder, intimidating a witness and reckless endangerment in the Aug. 4, 1997, wounding of Amy and Cheryl Fischer in the driveway of their family's Crownsville home. Amy Fischer, then 26, was to testify against Resper the next day in a misdemeanor theft case in which she said she saw him pocket six rolls of film from the Annapolis Mall store where she worked as an assistant manager.

Resper is believed to have followed Amy Fischer to find out where she lived. On the night of the shooting, he used his car to block her from pulling into the driveway of her home when she drove up with her sister, Cheryl, then 16, in the passenger seat.

Resper pulled alongside the car and started shooting with a .380-caliber handgun, striking Amy Fischer in the left arm, chest and abdomen. She was able to maneuver the car up the 300-foot driveway, allowing her sister to run into their home for help.

Resper got out of his car and pointed his gun at the woman through the open driver's-side window. She begged him not to shoot her again. He squeezed the trigger twice, but the gun did not fire.

"He would have finished her off" had the gun not either been empty or jammed, Roessler said.

Amy Fischer has lost the use of her left arm -- she is left-handed -- has one bullet lodged in her chest and must undergo surgery to stabilize her left arm.

Threats against witnesses in high-stakes cases are heard of occasionally in the county, but this was the only time in recent memory that someone tried to kill a witness. Circuit Judge Clayton R. Greene Jr. said when he sentenced Resper in May that it was "only by luck the victim did not die."

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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