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Woman who killed neighbor to be retried

The judge should not have prohibited an argument about the justifiable use of deadly force, a court says.

By RYAN DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 14, 2002


A convicted Land O'Lakes murderer should have the chance to argue that her suspicions about a neighbor justified his killing, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled Friday.

The Lakeland court reversed the verdict against Sylvia Maraman, 41, and sent the case back to Pasco County for a new trial.

Maraman was convicted in the 1998 murder of Arthur Danner. She said she gunned down her 73-year-old neighbor because he admitted to molesting her 12-year-old mentally handicapped daughter and bragged that he would do it again.

In 2000, Maraman was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Authorities said she went into Danner's mobile home, shot him five times with a .357-caliber handgun and then reloaded and shot him again -- in the groin.

The appeal court wrote in its Friday ruling that Maraman's defense attorney was prohibited by Circuit Judge Maynard Swanson from making a closing argument about the justifiable use of deadly force.

Her attorney should have been able to make that case, "no matter how far-fetched the argument might be," Chief Appeal Judge John Blue wrote.

Maraman was indicted on first-degree murder charges but found guilty of second-degree murder.

During sentencing, Swanson rejected the defense argument that the killing was an impulsive act by a woman with a history of psychosis and drug and alcohol abuse.

"You became all of the people we have condemned in history for taking the law into their own hands," Swanson told her.

She has been serving her sentence in Lowell Correction Institute in Marion County.

-- Ryan Davis can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is rdavis@sptimes.com.

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