Montgomery County police officer Kyle Olinger, a barrel-chested former Marine, glared up from his wheelchair yesterday as the man who shot and paralyzed him was sentenced in Circuit Court to life in prison plus 20 years, the most time allowable under the law.
Terrence A. Green, 19, who opened fire on Olinger during a traffic stop in Silver Spring in 2003, held a blank expression as he stood at the front of a crowded courtroom.
"Terrence Green showed no remorse," Olinger, 38, said after the hearing. "He's cold-blooded, and he needs to be behind bars. The judge's decision was correct."
After a two-week trial, Green was convicted in September of first-degree attempted murder, assault and using a handgun during a crime of violence. Judge S. Michael Pincus told the court yesterday that Olinger suffered "excessive harm" in the shooting.
"The defendant's actions were particularly vicious and violent," Pincus said, explaining why he gave Green a term that far exceeds Maryland's sentencing guidelines of 15 to 25 years in the case.
Montgomery State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler, who prosecuted the case, called Green a "brazen, wimpy, would-be cop killer" as he asked the judge to impose a life sentence.
Olinger, who now works as a police investigator, has a .32-caliber bullet lodged in his spine and cannot feel anything but a phantom pain below his chest. He had been on the force for almost two years when Green shot him on Aug. 13, 2003. Since that day, he said in court, he has been living in his "own personal hell."
"Everything I loved to do in life I can no longer do," said Olinger, who had been an avid runner, weight lifter and student of martial arts. "There are things worse than death in life, and that's paralysis."
He spoke of not being able to wrestle or play physical games with his 14-year-old son, Justin. He also spoke of Justin's anger at seeing his father disabled.
"Green chose to shoot me," he said. "I hope for Green, prison is a fate worse than death."
Green showed no emotion and declined to speak when given an opportunity by the judge. But earlier in the hearing, both the defendant and the victim wept as their family members made pleas to the court on their behalf.
Olinger's older sister, Rebecca Magee, described how she and her brother used to cherish their long jogs together and tease one another about who was in better shape. Now, she said, her brother feels embarrassment and rage every day because his legs no longer function.
"There are the frustrations of performing simple tasks," Magee said. "And the humiliation of going to a public place that says it's available to the handicapped and realizing it's not wheelchair-accessible."
On Green's side, his brother, Mickey Green, a police officer with the D.C. Housing Authority, was one of several people to address the court. He said Terrence Green is a quiet person who had never been in trouble before the shooting. He said the shooting surprised him.
"It had a bad impact on me because I'm in that field, too," Mickey Green said. "It shocked me, because it could have been me."
Green's family and attorney, Rene Sandler, told the judge that Green's father left when Green was 4 years old, which had a profound effect on him. Sandler said Green suffers several mental afflictions, including depression, paranoia and post-traumatic stress disorder. The judge recommended yesterday that Green be confined to the Patuxent Institution, a psychiatric prison.
According to testimony during the trial, the shooting happened just after midnight when Olinger stopped a 1993 Chrysler New Yorker and asked the driver to step out of the car. When Olinger walked toward the passenger side, where Green was sitting, he saw Green reach down to the floorboard for a chrome-plated pistol.
Olinger drew his weapon and shouted at the young men to put their hands up, but Green kept his hands out of view. Olinger held his weapon a few inches from Green's head, according to testimony, and Green suddenly fired a round into Olinger's neck.