‘I have what’s left of your mother … here’
JOHNSTOWN – Kathy Licciardi, a friend of murder victim Gwenda Lisman, pointed to a small urn in Fulton County Court on Thursday during the sentencing of Lisman’s son and killer.
“I have what’s left of your mother sitting here,” Licciardi told James F. Dibble during the reading of victim-impact statements at the sentencing.
“Wendy saw something in you we could not, God rest her soul,” Licciardi said. “That is the definition of a mother, James: someone who loves you unconditionally until she takes her last breath-and she proved that definition true until you took her last breath.”
The Ephratah man, who was found guilty in April of killing his mother at her home last summer, was sentenced to 25 years to life by Fulton County Court Judge Polly Hoye.
A jury previously found Dibble, 30, guilty on all counts, including second-degree murder, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, all felonies, and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor.
During the reading of victim-impact statements, loved ones of Lisman spoke about her life and confronted her son.
Dibble stared at the floor and table in front of him while dressed in an orange jumpsuit from the Fulton County Jail.
Dibble showed no emotion in the courtroom, but family and friends made sure their emotions and presence were known with their statements.
Lisman’s sister Sandra Orzel said she believed her nephew was “born with an evil spirit” and recalled how
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he “tormented and beat his other cousins senseless without reason or provocation.”
Lisman’s sister Denice Barrett said Dibble was always miserable, never showed a smile and rarely said “I love you” to anyone in the family.
“He stole from almost every member of our family,” Barrett said. “You need to be locked up for the rest of your life.”
During the proceeding, Dibble spoke only to the judge regarding his understanding of what was happening. He declined to speak on his own behalf.
Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said she was pleased with the sentencing. She pointed out Dibble waived his right to appeal all of the charges.
“He received the maximum and we obtained the very valuable waiver to appeal,” Sira said.
Dibble received 25 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction. Dibble also received 3 1/2 to seven years for criminal possession of a weapon, two to four years for fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and one year for criminal possession of stolen property charge. The time for those convictions will be served concurrently with the 25 years to life for the murder conviction.
Police arrested Dibble on July 2 in the death of Lisman, 58, who was found July 1 by a neighbor at Lisman’s home at 227 Mud Road, authorities said. Dibble shot his mother in the head with a rifle she borrowed from a neighbor to deal with a rodent problem in her garden, officials said. According to the indictment and testimony during the trial, the killing took place between June 30 and July 1.
During the sentencing, Hoye said it was obvious from Dibble’s record he had a “troubled life since you were a child.”
She noted court records showed at 12 years old, Dibble threatened to stab his mother several times.
“Your mother did everything she could for you throughout her life to prevent bad things from happening to you,” Hoye said.
“I don’t see a chance you can be rehabilitated,” she added.
Previously in 2013, state police arrested Dibble on a felony charge for allegedly collecting $5,600 in unemployment benefits while he was employed with Bast Hatfield.
As a result, Dibble also was sentenced by Hoye to three to six years in prison for third-degree grand larceny and two to four years for offering a false instrument for filing. That time will be served concurrently with the murder sentence.
The criminal-possession charges stem from Dibble being in possession of stolen property consisting of jewelry belonging to Lisman and NASCAR collectibles belonging to Lisman’s longtime boyfriend, Jeffrey Snell.
The lesser count of criminal possession of stolen property stemmed from the sale of a Husqvarna chainsaw belonging to Snell.
Scientists for the New York State Police Lab determined Dibble’s DNA was found in four locations on the gun and on the victim’s body.
Sira previously said Dibble’s actions were the result of betrayal, addiction, greed, obligation and fear.
“James just remember she was the only one who loved you,” Barrett said to Dibble during the sentencing.
Levi Pascher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.