Two 15-year consecutive terms for Chance shooter

PRINCESS ANNE — Before being sentenced to 30 years in prison for armed robbery and assault Lance Carl Fridley apologized to the victim, Kevin Bivens.

But Bivens was no longer in the courtroom to hear it. He left minutes earlier following an outburst disputing comments by a friend of the family that Fridley could become a productive member of society with parole and long-term rehabilitation.

It was sometime after midnight on April 13, 2019 when Fridley came looking for drugs at the Bivens home on Mahlon Price Road in Chance. After repeatedly being told there were none Bivens slammed the door in Fridley’s face.

Fridley kicked open the door, hit Bivens on the top of his head with the stock of a gun, and after stumbling backward and being hit again Bivens testified he felt “a sharp pain” and realized he had been shot.

At one point during the four-day trial in January Bivens lifted his shirt to show the jury his scars from the shotgun blast, telling them, “They had to put my arm and my shoulder back together in layers.”

Fridley — who was found not guilty of attempted murder — was instead convicted of first and second degree assault, armed robbery, robbery, reckless endangerment, fourth degree burglary, two gun charges and illegal possession of ammunition.

During sentencing Sept. 14 Fridley apologized and said he was “sorry for what happened” to someone he considered a friend. Fridley explained he was “very drug induced” at the time and the last eight months of incarceration and especially his transfer to ECI have been “really hard.”

Being stuck 23 hours a day “takes a toll on you,” Fridley said, and “all I have are my thoughts” but he’s now used to it, realizing he has nobody to blame but himself. Friends and family, who were in the gallery, “got me through it,” and they had submitted letters to the court in his support.

Stoney Whitelock when he addressed the court as a friend of the family said he knows from his own past what alcohol and drugs can do. Now sober 37 years that’s what will turn Fridley around and asked Circuit Court Judge Daniel W. Powell to not sentence the now 35-year-old to years in prison but instead provide for treatment.

That’s when Bivens left the courtroom, although the judge told deputies he was welcome to come back if he could be quiet. “I did not make him leave,” Judge Powell explained, and asked State’s Attorney Wess Garner to be sure he reaches out to Bivens to tell him the sentence.

Assistant State’s Attorney Erica Witz, who joined Garner in prosecuting the case, said based on the level of harm to the victim and Fridley’s “heinous” conduct she recommended 30 years of active incarceration.

Defense attorney James Scott said “this event was out of character” with Fridley’s past and that he can change. Fridley was even seeking drug treatment while in jail as well as taking part in various programs, and going to church as often as he could.

“I’m sure if Mr. Fridley could take it back,” Judge Powell said, “he would do it in a heartbeat.” “The problem is, he can’t” and called the state’s recommendation reasonable.

The judge said he could not tolerate violence with firearms in the community “no matter what the situation is” and for the misdemeanor of committing a violent crime with a firearm sentenced Fridley to 15 years. Five of those are without the possibility of parole.

Merged into that count were dangerous weapon and possession of ammunition charges.

For armed robbery the judge imposed 15 more years, merging four other charges in the process. Of the combined aggregate sentence of 30 years at least half of that must be served before parole is considered.

The judge set April 13, 2019 as the sentencing start date. Fridley wished his mother and family well as he was escorted out of the courtroom.

Had it not been for COVID-19 restrictions Fridley was to have been sentenced on the one year anniversary of his crime. Judge Powell said at the appropriate time he will consider a motion from Fridley to order drug evaluation and treatment.

State’s Attorney Garner commended State Police Sgt. Jonathan Pruitt, the lead investigator, and other troopers for their work in the investigation.