Tougher sentence for Resper affirmed by judicial panel Attack on witness brings life, 10 years

treatment plea denied

July 31, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Refusing to deviate from its earlier decision, an Anne Arundel judicial review panel formalized yesterday an increased prison term for photographer Wayne Resper, who tried to kill a witness against him in a $35.96 shoplifting case.

The three-judge panel ordered the maximum sentence of life plus 10 years for Resper, 39, at the formal resentencing. It also refused, by a 2-1 vote, to recommend that the state Department of Corrections place him in Patuxent Institution's intensive psychiatric treatment unit.

Resper, who had requested a lighter sentence than he was initially given, said nothing at the hearing.

His attorney, Gill Cochran, vowed to appeal. Cochran said the panel's vote to disregard a circuit judge's recommendation that Resper be sent to Patuxent might be illegal.

Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr. had sentenced Resper in May to life in prison plus five years -- five years short of the maximum sentence -- but recommended that prison officials send him to Patuxent, where he could get psychiatric treatment.

Judicial suggestions may help get a prisoner into a Patuxent program, but state prison officials do their own evaluations in making a decision, said prosecutor Frank Ragione.

"I didn't think he would lose the opportunity" for treatment, Cochran said. "We have a dynamite issue for appeal," said Cochran.

State law does not address whether a judicial review panel can disregard a recommendation for treatment made by another judge, Cochran said.

He said he doubted his client would have sought review if he had thought he would not be admitted to a treatment program.

While Cochran pleaded with Judges Eugene M. Lerner, Ronald A. Silkworth and Lawrence H. Rushworth to recommend treatment at Patuxent, prosecutors remained silent.

The increased sentence appeared to reflect the judges' anger with Resper's request for a lesser sentence.

The judges had increased Resper's sentence at a hearing on his request July 7. At that time, they noted that he had "already received leniency" when handgun and other charges that could have netted him another 50 years in prison were dropped as part of his plea agreement admitting a charge of attempted first-degree murder. His crime was "particularly heinous" and "cries out for the maximum permissible sentence," they held, and set the date for the formal resentencing, which occurred yesterday.

"It doesn't make a difference to me as long as it keeps him in jail and not around walking," said Yvonne Fischer, whose daughter, Amy, was nearly killed in the Aug. 4, 1997, attack.

Amy Fischer, who did not attend the hearing, filed a shoplifting charge against Resper in November 1996, alleging he tried to steal six rolls of film from the photo store where she worked in the Annapolis Mall.

The night before she was to have testified against him, the Crofton man followed her car to her family's home in Crownsville and opened fire. Amy Fischer, then 26, was shot repeatedly in the upper body. Resper pointed his handgun at her head through the open driver's side window of her car, court records said. Covered in her own blood, she pleaded for her life. He squeezed the trigger twice, but the gun failed to fire.

Prosecutors said had the gun gone off, Amy Fischer would have been dead.

pTC Resper also wounded Amy Fischer's sister, Cheryl, then 16, who was with her in the car.

Amy Fischer, who was left-handed, lost the use of her left arm. She has undergone several operations and physical therapy.

"But she's alive," her mother said yesterday.

Pub Date: 7/31/98

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