This article originally appeared in The Inquirer on June 26, 1996.

Twice in eight years, Robert Fisher has been tried, convicted and sentenced to die for the 1980 murder of his girlfriend in Norristown.

Yesterday, the state Supreme Court overturned Fisher's death sentence for a second time, raising the likelihood that he may appear yet again in Montgomery County Court to answer for the same, long-ago crime.

The court did not overturn Fisher's 1992 conviction for the first-degree murder of Linda Rowden, 26. Rather, it ruled that jurors were improperly allowed to consider how the murder had devastated Rowden's family when it came time to decide Fisher's sentence.

Montgomery County prosecutors must now determine whether to take Fisher to court. If they decline to seek the death penalty again, Fisher automatically would serve a life sentence.

``We have to review the opinion and then decide what to do,'' said First Assistant District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., who prosecuted the case.

Fisher, 49, was twice convicted of shooting Rowden to death in July 1980 as she drove along a busy Norristown street. Prosecutors said he murdered her to prevent her from implicating him in the June 1980 murder of Nigel Anderson, a federal drug informant.

In 1985, a federal grand jury indicted Fisher on charges of violating Anderson's civil rights. Fisher fled, but was captured two years later and was convicted in federal court in June 1988.

Then he faced state murder charges in Montgomery County, where prosecutors used the federal conviction to help show a motive for Rowden's slaying. He was convicted in September 1988 and sentenced to death.

But in 1990, a federal judge, citing a lack of evidence, overturned the federal civil-rights conviction. That prompted the state Supreme Court to overturn the murder conviction in 1991.

Fisher was quickly retried and convicted of the murder charges. And in May 1992, he was sentenced once again to death.

During that sentencing hearing, jurors were allowed to hear emotional testimony from Rowden's mother. That was improper, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

``The impact of the victim's death on society and her family is not a legitimate factor on which a sentence of death can be based,'' Justice Stephen Zappala wrote in the majority opinion. Justices Ronald Castille and Sandra Schultz Newman dissented.

Until 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited the use of ``victim impact'' testimony in death penalty cases. But even after the high court reversed its stance, state law did not specifically permit such testimony until 1995.

``We agree with [Fisher] that the capital sentencing scheme in effect at the time of his trial precluded the admission of `victim impact' testimony,'' Zappala wrote.

Four years ago, after Fisher's second murder trial, Castor noted that 24 county jurors in two trials had decided he deserved to be executed.

Now, another jury of 12 may soon be summoned.