At 73, Fred Matthews didn't think about the consequences when he went running after the thief who broke into his Brooklyn Park home, ransacked his bedroom and stole part of his gun collection.
Minutes later, Mr. Matthews lay pistol-whipped and bloodied in his back yard, attacked by the ex-husband of a woman he had started a relationship with two years earlier.
The retired Westinghouse engineer was in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court yesterday to hear Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. sentence Patrick R. Frissel of the 4400 block of Norfen Road in Brooklyn to 23 years in prison for the June 27 break-in.
Frissel, 30, had been out of prison a year, having served about two years of a four-year sentence for armed robbery, when he burglarized Mr. Matthews' home, said Frederick M. Paone, assistant state's attorney.
Alerted by his dog, Mr. Matthews sprinted out into his yard that night after he looked out his bedroom window and spotted a "flash of white shirt" fleeing his home.
"I was angry. When I looked through my dresser drawers and saw everything had been pawed through, I thought, 'Man, I've been violated!' " he said.
Mr. Paone said Mr. Matthews knew the defendant, helped take (( care of his wife and three children while he was in prison and invited him into his house in the 4600 block of Belle Grove Road about three weeks before the burglary.
Mr. Paone said Mr. Matthews showed Frissel his handful of fire arms, described by the victim as "a modest workingman's gun collection."
On the night of the incident, Mr. Matthews said he was watching television at about 10 p.m. when his dog began barking and inexplicably ran upstairs.
Mr. Matthews went upstairs and saw the ransacked bedroom. While he was there, Frissel jumped from a third-story window, breaking both his ankles.
When he ran out to his back yard, Mr. Matthews said, he was pulled to the ground by Frissel, who was hiding in bushes, unable to run or even walk because of his ankle injuries.
Frissel began beating Mr. Matthews, pistol-whipping him about the head with an antique Smith and Wesson he had just stolen from the victim's attic, Mr. Matthews said.
The sound of neighbors coming out of their houses prompted Frissel to grab Mr. Matthews' wallet and crawl away.
He left his victim with "so many lacerations that the blood ran profusely, covering his facial features," said a police affidavit in the court file.
Frissel was arrested about a block away, where he was found by police hiding under a pickup truck, his shirt soaked with blood. He told officers he was hiding from muggers.
Assistant Public Defender Kendel L. Sibiski, Frissel's attorney, said the incident was part of a "very heightened, domestic love triangle" that stemmed from the victim and defendant sharing the same woman -- the defendant's ex-wife, Sandra Frissel.
"She would call my client when she needed him, and she would call Mr. Matthews when she needed him," she said. She described Mrs. Frissel as "decades younger" than Mr. Matthews.
She said Frissel was interested in renewing the relationship and becoming a father to their three children.
Mr. Matthews said yesterday that he wished he had a chance to respond to that in court. He said he and Mrs. Frissel have had a relationship for the past two years, ever since they met one day while he was tending his vegetable garden and she walked by.
"She needed a break and I tried to give her one," he said.
But he said he is more interested in doing what's right for Mrs. Frissel and her three children than anything else.
"I told them I'd like to see them get back together again," he said.
"No family should be apart like that."