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Date of Issue: January 10, 2008

Charge amended in Normand shooting

A charge in the shooting of Sue Normand at her Island Mail & More store in Holmes Beach was amended last week to aggravated battery with a firearm.

The initial charge against defendant Mark W. Koenigs had been attempted first-degree murder.

The change was detailed in a “notice of case action” filed by assistant state attorney Lauren Berns at the Manatee County Courthouse in Bradenton.

The case was brought to the state attorney’s office by the Holmes Beach Police Department. HBPD Chief Jay Romine said last week, “It is always the decision of the state attorney on which charge they will file” and he indicated the reasoning behind the amended charge would be up to Berns to explain.

Berns was not available last week to discuss the amended charge. A professor with Stetson University Law School said that to pursue an attempted murder charge, the state needed a clear indication that Koenigs wanted to kill Normand or that she could have been killed during the commission of another felony, such as armed robbery.

Aggravated battery with a firearm is a second-degree felony charge punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A person commits aggravated battery when he/she intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement or uses a deadly weapon, according to the Florida Statutes.

Normand said upon first learning of the amended charge she was troubled, but after talking with Romine she said she felt assured that a conviction on aggravated battery with a firearm could result in the same amount of jail time as with the original charge of attempted murder.

“It should be an easier charge to prove,” she said of the aggravated battery with a firearm charge.

Koenigs, 54, was arrested Dec. 5, shortly after Normand was shot at her Island Mail & More store in Holmes Beach. Normand, 63, had just opened the store when a man, identified by police as Koenigs, walked in, removed a 9-mm handgun from a box and shot her in the hip.

Koenigs, who remained in the Manatee County jail on $2.4 million bond, was arrested on the shore in Bradenton Beach after being shot by two Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies who allege the suspect aimed a gun at them.

In connection with the arrest in Bradenton Beach, Koenigs, who has refused to talk with authorities, also faces two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm.

The MCSO and HBPD cases involving Koenigs had been filed separately at the courthouse, but Berns’ notice of case action consolidated the two cases into one.

Koenigs, represented by public defender Peter Belmont, will appear in court Jan. 18 for his arraignment.

Meanwhile, Normand continued last week to recover from her injury and surgery in Bradenton Beach accommodations for the duration of January.

“I expect that hopefully when that period ends I can go home,” Normand said, adding that maneuvering around remains a challenge.

She cannot return to her home in Holmes Beach until the elevated structure can be outfitted with a lift, which is estimated to cost $14,000 to $18,000.

Normand has received support Islandwide, with get-well wishes and financial help via the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce’s Bay of Dreams fund and www.supportsue.com, a campaign launched by family and friends.

Normand also has received support from her business colleages, the members of the Associated Mail and Parcel Centers, a trade group that represents businesspeople in the shipping trade.

“Sue has been a member for years,” said AMPC executive director Sandra Giarde. “AMPC has a great tradition of members supporting members. So we sent out a call to action to support www.supportsue.com.”

Normand opened Island Mail & More in the Anna Maria Island Centre Shops five years ago and has repeatedly said she’s anxious to return to work.

“I did sneak in there on New Year’s Day when no one was around,” Normand said. But, she added, “Whenever I go out, it’s very tiring.”