Woman convicted for drugs '2-time loser' law looms in sentence


A jury deliberated for a little more than an hour yesterday before finding Diane L. Wisner guilty on four of five drug-related counts. She could face a sentence of at least 10 years in prison because it is her second felony conviction.

Wisner's sentencing date is Sept. 10, when Carroll Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III will ask Judge Francis M. Arnold to enforce the state's "two-time loser" statute.

Under that law, for her second felony conviction, the Union Mills woman faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years with no parole.

"We're hoping she won't be sentenced that harshly," said Stephen P. Bourexis, Wisner's lawyer, who said he believes the judge might have some discretion in the minimum 10-year sentence.

"I'm likely to ask for more than that," Mr. Walker said, because Wisner was arrested for the latest drug charges Jan. 15, three days before being sentenced for a drug-dealing conviction in October 1992.

She is serving two years for that conviction at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup.

"It's just a flagrant type of behavior," Mr. Walker said of Wisner continuing to use and sell drugs after her conviction.

But Mr. Bourexis said Wisner's actions are ruled by her crack addiction. He tried to convince the jury that Wisner, 34, was a "sick pathetic addict" who had the approximately one ounce of cocaine only for her own use.

"I think it's always a flagrant violation when viewed in the eyes of a nonaddict," Mr. Bourexis said of Wisner's return to drug use while awaiting sentencing.

He said Wisner would file a motion for a new trial, based on "errors of law in this case." He said there were several.

Wisner and her parents declined comment. Her family attended most of the two days of testimony and yesterday's arguments. Wisner's mother, Marie Boyd, took the stand briefly to testify that the guns found in her daughter's room at the Boyd house belonged to Wisner's estranged husband.

The jury found Wisner guilty of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a common nuisance out of her room in her parent's home on the 3500 block of Littlestown Pike.

They found her innocent on the count of maintaining a common nuisance out of her truck, a 1984 Ford Ranger pickup she was driving on Littlestown Pike when arrested.

In his closing arguments, Mr. Bourexis did not dispute that Wisner possessed cocaine or paraphernalia to use it and turn it into crack, a smokable form.

But he said all the drugs were for her personal use.

He referred to two of her friends who testified that she never offered them cocaine.

"She was greedy and she needed that drug on a daily basis," Mr. Bourexis told the jury.

He urged them to find her innocent of the dealing and common nuisance counts, which are felonies qualifying the state to seek the minimum 10-year sentence.

Two of the police officers who arrested Wisner on Jan. 15 testified that the amount of cocaine, cash, two pagers, paraphernalia and two guns police found in her jacket, purse and bedroom are typical of drug dealers.

"Don't let yourself be confused that the defendant had a drug problem," said Mr. Walker in his rebuttal. "Focus on the evidence."

He referred to the $3,400 found in Wisner's home and purse, as well as the cocaine and crack packaged in small amounts and different forms, such as plastic bags, gum wrappers and plastic candy vials.

He said police testified that addicts who don't deal usually spend all their money, property and time trying to get more drugs.

"One does not have an addict like this who is saving money for a rainy day," Mr. Walker said. "You don't care about a rainy day. A serious addict, sure. But a lot more than that."

Mr. Bourexis told the jury that Mr. Walker's prosecution was part of a national obsession with the drug war.

"He's sincere, but he's wrong. He's dead wrong in this case," Mr. Bourexis said. "You have to get rid of the perception of fear, you have to get rid of the phobia and look at the facts."

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