An Arlington man was convicted yesterday of second-degree murder and illegal use of a firearm in the shooting death of a 22-year-old woman in front of the woman's apartment building near Bailey's Crossroads five months ago.

The jury recommended to Arlington Circuit Court Judge Charles Duff that Ronnie J. James be sentenced to serve a total of 18 years in the state penitentiary for the murder of Donna M. DePugh.James allegedly shot DePugh to death with a .38 caliber revolver as the two stood on the walkway in front of DuPage's apartment on the night of April 20.

Judge Duff, responding to an unusual request from James that he be sentenced immediately, ordered James imprisoned for 17 years on the murder charge and one year for the firearm violation.

James asked for the quick sentencing in order to receive visits from his wife and infant daughter in the state institution, according to defense attorney Marvin D. Miller.

In the six-day trial, the prosecution's key witness, Cathy Comisarow, who lived in DePugh's building, testified she saw a man who matched Jame's phsyical description shoot DePugh three times on the sidewalk outside the apartment building. Comisarow said she could not testify with absolute certainty that the man was James.

But defense attorney Miller argued that the case was one of mistaken identity. Comisarow, Miller said, had been treated for schizophrenia, had been "traumatized" by witnessing the shooting and had been pressured by the "authority environment" of the police station when identifying James as the murder suspect.

Miller said an appeal in the case seemed "most likely," but would depend on further discussions with James.