Fan in Gless Case to Stand Trial on Burglary Charges


An obsessed fan who barricaded herself with a rifle inside the Studio City house of “Cagney and Lacey” co-star Sharon Gless was ordered Friday to stand trial on two counts of burglary.

Joni Leigh Penn, 30, of Garden Grove faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted on both counts and if it is determined that she used a weapon during the break-in, prosecutors said. Penn is scheduled to be arraigned in San Fernando Superior Court on May 25.

In making his ruling Friday, San Fernando Municipal Court Judge Paul I. Metzler said prosecutors had furnished enough evidence to show that Penn intended to commit felonies when she invaded the Gless residence March 30, and during a burglary of the same residence three days earlier. To be found guilty of burglary, a defendant must be shown to have intended to commit a felony.

Penn’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Mitchell J. Bruckner, has said that his client did not intend to harm Gless during the seven-hour standoff, even though the intruder was armed with a .22-caliber assault-style rifle and nearly 500 rounds of ammunition. Bruckner said Penn wanted to be near the actress, who was not home, and commit suicide.


Metzler disagreed.

“It seems to me that if she entered the residence with that sort of deadly weapon . . . that Ms. Gless would not have willingly sat still and taken part in a tete - a - tete ,” the judge said. “In order to make Gless sit still she would have either falsely imprisoned her or assaulted her with a deadly weapon.” Both false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon are felonies.

Penn reportedly told a Los Angeles police detective after she surrendered that she wanted “to make Sharon love me. I would have done anything. I wanted her to love me.” A police officer testified that Penn had told him: “If I can’t have her, nobody can.”

Police have accused Penn of stealing a date book during the earlier break-in. The date book was taken by Penn in the hope of tracking down the actress at her Malibu residence, detectives said.