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Woman Who Broke into Sharon Gless’ House Sentenced to 6 Years

July 17, 1990

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. (AP) _ A woman who broke into actress Sharon Gless’ home armed with a rifle in March was sentenced Monday to six years in prison.

After Joni Leigh Penn, 30, pleaded no contest to two felony burglary charges in San Fernando Superior Court, Judge John Major handed down the term. He had reviewed Ms. Penn’s psychiatric records and testimony including an apology from Ms. Penn to Miss Gless.

Deputy District Attorney Lori Dery, who pushed for the maximum 10-year term, said: ″I think the judge did what he thought was right. ... Hopefully, she can get the help she needs while she’s in state prison. Otherwise, she is still a danger to Miss Gless.″

Ms. Dery said Ms. Penn, who has no prior record and no history of violence, could be eligible for parole after 40 months in prison.

Miss Gless, an Emmy Award winner for her role in the TV detective series ″Cagney and Lacy,″ did not attend Monday’s court proceedings.

But her brother and lawyer, Michael Gless, said he was glad Ms. Penn would be locked up.

During the break-in, police said Ms. Penn told them she was in love with Miss Gless and planned to sexually assault her, then kill herself. Miss Gless was away from her Studio City home when the incident occurred March 30.

Deputy Public Defender Mitch Bruckner could not be reached for comment. He has said previously that Ms. Penn never intended to harm Miss Gless, but only wanted to talk to her.

At the time of the incident, she was under a restraining order instructing her to stay away from the actress.

Her psychiatrist had notified Miss Gless more than two years ago that the woman planned to shoot herself in front of her.

Police responding to a home security alarm discovered a person inside with a rifle. Ms. Penn surrendered peacefully to authorities after seven hours of negotiations.

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