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Defendant in killing rejects deal

Published Sep. 26, 2005

Sylvia Maraman opts to take her chances with a jury rather than accept 20{ years in prison in the shooting of her neighbor.

With time ticking away toward her first-degree murder trial, state prosecutors on Thursday offered Sylvia Maraman a deal: 20{ years if she pleaded guilty.

She said no.

Defense attorney Darlene Calzon Barror presented the offer to Maraman after a hearing Thursday afternoon. Before talking with her client, Barror said Maraman would have to be the one to make the decision.

"Ultimately, she's the one who has to do the time," Barror said.

Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia said Barror told him late Thursday afternoon that Maraman had rejected the deal.

Her trial is set to begin Monday.

Maraman has admitted shooting her 73-year-old neighbor Arthur Danner to death on May 24, 1998, at his Land O'Lakes mobile home. Investigators say she shot Danner repeatedly with a .357-revolver, then reloaded and fired a final shot into his groin.

Barror said the key issue isn't who pulled the trigger, but why.

Maraman contends Danner bragged about molesting her 12-year-old daughter and threatened to do it again. Barror said Maraman's state of mind, her past history of drug abuse, mental illness, her own history of sexual abuse and her alcoholism would be factors jurors would have to consider before deciding if Maraman is guilty of first-degree murder.

"It's a very tryable case," Barror said Thursday.

If convicted of first-degree murder or second-degree murder, Maraman could be sentenced to life in prison, Barror said. The state's offer to let her plead guilty to second-degree murder included a sentence on the low end of the possible sentences for that crime, she said.

Garcia said the offer had been personally approved by Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney Bernie McCabe.

Barror said she planned to explain the gamut of possible outcomes to her client _ everything from a jury finding her innocent and sending her home, to finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Also included is the possibility of manslaughter, which carries a maximum 15-year sentence.

Garcia said the death penalty is not an option.

Circuit Judge Maynard Swanson granted a state motion Thursday barring Barror from using an insanity plea because she had not filed the appropriate notice. He also said Barror could not present testimony from doctors claiming Maraman didn't know right from wrong or didn't fully understand the implications of pulling the trigger.

Barror said she does not intend to argue insanity but will present testimony from doctors that will show how a combination of Maraman's past abuse, her stays in four mental hospitals and her drinking and use of Valium contributed to the shooting.

Maraman attended Thursday's hearing. She wept quietly at one point but did not speak.