Paul Wersick, 16, was sentenced yesterday to a term of life plus 10 years for murder, moments after telling a Montgomery County judge, "Nothing I can say now . . . can change the fact that I am responsible for the death of George Angerman."
After pronouncing sentence, the judge recommended that Wersick receive psychiatric treatment at the Patuxent Institution. The teen-ager was convicted of shooting county assessor Angerman in the back of the head after gagging him with a Boy Scout neckerchief and robbing him in a secluded parking garage last summer.
At Patuxent, which still must approve Wersick's admission, he would be eligible for parole release after one year if authorities considered him to be no longer a threat to society. But prosecutors said they feel this is highly unlikely.
With a life sentence in any other institution, he would have to serve 11 1/2 years - including time off for good behavior - before becoming eligible for parole.
Because of Patuxent's policies, authorities said they could not estimate how long Wersick would actually serve.
Wersick, who had pleaded innocent by reason of insanity, told Circuit Court Judge Philip M. Fairbanks, that the jurors had been "just and fair."
"What saddens me most, Your Honor, is that because of my actions his [Angerman's] 9-year-old girl no longer has a father," Wersick said in his brief speech.
After listening to the youth, Fairbanks imposed all but five years of the maximum allowable sentence.
"Your potential for explosive and deadly violence makes you a danger to yourself and the community," Fairbanks told Wersick as the youth stood before him. "Two human beings are already dead, and you are barely out of your childhoold."
Fairbanks was referring to Angerman's slaying and the 1976 shooting death of Cynthia Martin, an 11-year-old playmate of Wersick. A county juvenile judge found Wersick "involved" in the death of the girl and placed him on probation.
"Your previous probation and psychiatric treatment did not deter you from murdering George Angerman," Fairbanks said. But he added that he was "not unmindful" of Wersick's "extreme youth," and his "need for help" based on the psychiatric testimony at his trial. The jury in the case recommended that the judge show mercy in his sentencing.
Fairbanks said he was recommending Patuxent "in the hope some real help can be offerred you . . . a possible cure for your violent and antisocial tendencies."
Assistant State's Attorney Larry Ceppos, in asking the judge to impose the maximum penalty, said Wersick is "dangerous, as dangerous as the plague. He's a killer. He has killed twice, and no one knows if he will kill again."
Earlier in yesterday's sentencing hearing, Wersick's mother, Helen, took the witness stand and, in a voice choked with tears, said that she and her son "had talked many times" of Cynthia Martin's death.
"Paul would come and sit on the floor, put his head in my lap and talk about it, cry about it," she said. "Of course, he didn't inntend to do it, he didn't want to do it. He felt guilty."
Though the youth had been instructed by attorneys not to discuss Angerman's death with her, she said she "just had to look at Paul to know how he felt" during the past 10 months in the county detention center.
"I got the feeling he was glad he was where he was," she said. "I was glad he was there. That's why we never asked for any bond. He was better off there."
Public Defender J. James McKenna recommended that Fairbanks consider placing Wersick in a proposed state program for intensive treatment of youths who have committed violent crimes. The program is tentatively scheduled to open in September at the Alfred Noyes Children's Center in Montgomery County.
But Fairbanks said he could not even consider the program until it is actually in existence.
Fairbanks imposed the life sentence on Wersick's conviction for felony murder legally defined as murder which occurs during the commission of another felony, such as armed robbery. The additional 10 years was imposed for Wersick's use of a handgun in commission of a felony. CAPTION: Picture, A deputy sheriff leads Paul Wersick, 16, away from Montgomery County courthouse after his sentencing. By Larry Morris - The Washington Post