Calling the murder a "cruel and brutal ambush," a Montgomery County judge yesterday sentenced a Bethesda woman to 30 years in prison for shooting her estranged husband nine times outside a Poolesville kennel, where the couple had arranged to meet to euthanize their sick dog.
Circuit Court Judge William C. Miller imposed a life sentence on Lisa Rubin, but suspended all but 30 years. Rubin, 34, also received a 20-year sentence, to be served concurrently, for the use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime.
Rubin, who showed little emotion, read a statement before the sentencing. Speaking barely above a whisper, Rubin apologized to the victim's parents and relatives, who were in the courtroom. She said she "never had any intention of hurting" her husband, Timothy Warner.
"I know the jury has spoken, and I must now pay the consequences," Rubin said. "I can only tell you that I would ask you to give me the chance to return to the community to help other people."
Rubin, a summa cum laude psychology graduate of American University, would be eligible for parole in about 15 years, attorneys said.
Jack Warner, the victim's father, said yesterday he was disappointed about the possibility of parole. "It seems like a rather short time . . . "
Miller, noting that Rubin is well-educated and independently wealthy, said, "Equal justice requires that you be treated the same as others." Although the April 24 slaying was "the result of a domestic situation," Miller said, "that in no way justifies what happened."
A jury convicted Rubin Nov. 30 of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Warner, 28, a NASA engineer. Rubin testified she shot Warner with a .38-caliber revolver in self-defense after he pulled a gun and threatened her in a wooded area near the Peachtree Veterinary Clinic off Route 28.
An autopsy showed Warner had been shot five times in the back. Rubin testified she bought two guns -- a Lady Smith five-shot revolver and .22-caliber Beretta semiautomatic pistol -- two weeks before the slaying for protection. A Beretta registered to Rubin was found under Warner's body. It had not been fired.
At the sentencing yesterday, prosecutor Mark Foley said Rubin plotted to kill Warner because of jealousy. "She set him up, ambushed him and shot him nine times." Warner had separated from Rubin about a month before the shooting. The couple had arranged to meet at the clinic to have their dog, Mutley, put to sleep.
Defense attorney Fred Joseph said yesterday a psychologist had concluded that Rubin, who described herself as an animal-rights activist, suffered from a "panic disorder" on the night of the shooting. Rubin immediately called a private detective, who attempted to have Rubin admitted to a hospital under a false name for a faked drug overdose after the slaying. Police were led to the corpse several hours later by Rubin's former attorneys.
Joseph said Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor whose book, "Reversal of Fortune," is now a movie about the successful appeal of the Claus von Bulow case, is helping to prepare an appeal for Rubin.