A 44-year-old Fairfax County woman who pleaded guilty to first degree murder last May, is free on five years' probation and a 15-year suspended sentence that Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. attributes to "unusually misplaced compassion."
Horan yesterday berated the sentence given by Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Burch Millsap to Ilona Szabo, 42, who pleaded guilty to the shooting last Oct. 8 of her roommate, Ibolya Jenes, 44.
An investigator in the case said Jenes was shot once "from point blank range" in the chest.
"She was convicted of deliberate, premeditated, first degree murder," Horan said. "This is a mockery. What about the victim? And the effect this has had on the victim's family. I'm upset about the system, but I'm not second guessing the judge.
"There is an awesome tendency to forget all about the person who was killed, and that is entirely unfair."
Horan's praised an experiment implemented recently in Maryland federal court system. This "victim impact statement" is designed to focus on the "financial, physical and psychological" effects of a crime upon its victim, and the victim's family.
Police discovered Jenes' body on a Sunday night in her garden apartment on Blake Lane. According to a Marriott Hotel official, Szabo and Jenes were both divorced and worked as cooks at the Marriott Twin Bridges in Arlington.
Judge Millsap was given a presentencing report on Szabol's social and employment history that defense attorney Alan Plevy said yesterday "deeply influenced" the judge's decision.
"She had no prior criminal charges, and there were glowing reports from friends and employers. She was grief-stricken by the shooting and tried to commit suicide more than once," Plevy said.
Szabo, who is Hungarian, lived in her native country until she escaped to Austria in 1972. She lived in a refugee camp for two months before getting a visa to the U.S., Plevy said. "She watched her hometown get destroyed during a World War II bombing raid," Plevy said. "I think it was a just decision."
Horan strongly disagreed. "It would be eminently sensible for the judge to receive similar background on the victim. It is appalling to forget the crime, and the effect upon the victim's family," he said.