Pamela Prowant was shot in her Laurel apartment 1985 and died in January of this year. According to the records that are still around, police said, detectives at the time seem to have charged her estranged husband in the case, though those charges were eventually dropped.

Now it’s Prince George’s County’s 28th homicide of 2012. And detectives cannot charge the estranged husband with murder — even if they could now prove he was the shooter.

The case is another example of the curious way police departments count homicides. Prince George’s is already counting as its 12th homicide a man who died this year, related to complications stemming from a 1989 shooting.

Prowant was found shot about 3:45 a.m. on Nov. 1, 1985, inside her apartment on South Laurel Drive. Capt. Joe Hoffman, the homicide commander for the Prince George’s County Police Department, said the records detectives have been able to find seem to indicate her estranged husband was charged with a type of assault in the case, but those charges were later dropped. He said the records were not clear as to why the charges were dropped or what evidence police had initially to charge the estranged husband.

Hoffman said the incident seemed to stem from a child custody dispute.

Prowant survived her injuries, though she was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, authorities said. She died at a hospital on Jan. 29, and on April 3, the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide — stemming from the gunshot wound she sustained in 1985.

Hoffman said detectives looked into records about the case and screened it with the state’s attorney’s office, which determined earlier this month it couldn’t be prosecuted — even if a new case could be built against the estranged husband. In 1985, Hoffman said, Maryland law required that a victim die within a year and a day of being wounded for authorities to bring murder charges. Prowant’s case, he said, did not meet those requirements.