A 25-year-old former Army private was convicted yesterday of malicious wounding in an attack on his girlfriend. An Alexandria Circuit Court jury recommended a 20-year prison sentence, maximum for the offense.
Prosecutors said Marilyn Walker, 28, "miraculously survived" a bullet fired by Zenio J. Simuel that traveled through her right hand, into the right side of her head and out the left.
In addition to the 20-year term, the jury recommended that Simuel be sentenced to two years for using a firearm in the commission of a crime. Judge James B. Wilkinson scheduled sentencing for Sept. 10. Under Virginia law, he can reduce, but not increase, the jury's sentence.
The seven-hour trial began with Simuel leaping from his chair and bolting into the judge's chambers. He was returned to court after 11 sheriff's deputies were called to subdue him.
Walker, who shared an apartment with Simuel at 517 Four Mile Rd., Alexandria, testified that she asked Alexandria police for protection on April 3, 1984, because Simuel had been beating her. Police told her they could offer little help and suggested the two separate, she said.
Simuel returned home about midnight that day, Walker testified, and, after an argument started, he said, "I'm going to shoot you."
Walker said Simuel then took a pistol from the closet and shot her. When she tried to flee, he beat her, fracturing her ribs and cutting an eye, she said.
Simuel, who was considered an expert marksman in the Army, according to his attorney, Michael Weiser, testified that the shooting "was a total accident . . . . She didn't want me to leave . . . . She had the pistol on me. I told her how much I loved her . . . . Somehow she got shot."
Dr. Aldo M. Rosemblat, Walker's neurosurgeon, testified that the bullet that passed through her head bruised her brain. He said a portion of Walker's brain about the size of a small plum was deadened by the gunshot and her long-term prognosis could include seizures.
Walker testified that another doctor told her she may lose the sight in her right eye because of beatings she suffered.