But for the gun misfiring, Amy Fischer would probably be dead.
Instead, she has lost the use of her left arm -- and she is left-handed.
Yesterday, Wayne Resper, who shot Fischer the night before she was to testify against him in a shoplifting case, was sentenced to life plus five years in prison.
Deputy State's Attorney William Roessler was satisfied. "It was a planned assassination," he said.
Nasty remarks and threats occasionally arise in Anne Arundel County murder and other high-stakes cases, but this was the only time in recent memory that someone had tried to kill a witness. That it was over a $35.96 shoplifting case was "irrational," Judge Clayton Greene Jr. said.
Resper, 39, of the 2000 block of Lake Grove Court in Crofton apologized yesterday. His attorney, Gill Cochran, asked for a 20-year sentence for Resper's guilty pleas in March to attempted first-degree murder, intimidating a witness and reckless endangerment. He said a court-ordered psychiatric examination found Resper "chronically mentally disordered."
Although Greene did recommend, as Cochran had asked, that Resper be sent to the Patuxtent Institution for intensive psychological therapy, the defense attorney plans to appeal. The sentence went beyond state guidelines that recommend 20 to 35 years in prison.
Fischer, 27, said she is somewhat relieved by the sentence but glad she has moved out of the state.
"I have no use of my left arm; probably I never will," Fischer said after the court hearing. "He took my left arm."
She was scheduled for surgery today to stabilize her left wrist. Another bullet remains lodged in her chest.
The shooting was the second time that a witness about to testify against Resper was shot before appearing in court.
Resper and his brother Ronald were questioned at length in 1985 after Ronald's wife, Carolyn, and three other people were found slain the day before Carolyn was to testify against the men in their robbery trial.
The brothers were not charged in those shootings, and the homicide case remains unsolved. Eventually, Wayne Resper was acquitted of robbery and his brother was convicted of armed robbery.
Fischer was assistant manager of the CPI Photo Store in Annapolis Mall. The shooting cost her the job because she cannot process film using one hand, she said.
"This is all over six rolls of film," Fischer said.
On Nov. 4, 1996, Fischer told police she had seen Resper pocket the rolls of film in her store. She alerted mall security officials, who stopped Resper and found the film. She filed a charge of misdemeanor theft.
After his first District Court hearing date was postponed, Resper is believed to have followed Fischer.
A man driving a silver-color Volvo blocked her from pulling into the driveway of her family's home in the 1700 block of Crownsville Road when she came home after 9 p.m. Aug. 4 with her sister, Cheryl, then 16, in the passenger seat.
The car pulled alongside hers, and a man started shooting with a .380-caliber handgun, striking Fischer several times in the left arm, chest and abdomen. Police and prosecutors were astounded that she was able to maneuver the car up the 300-foot driveway and protect her sister, who then bolted into their home for help.
Resper got out of his car and pointed his gun at Fischer 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.
Police never found the weapon, but they found a box of .380-caliber ammunition and an empty holster for a Beretta pistol at Resper's house.
Pub Date: 5/19/98