"Death penalty bill dropped by Senate," is the title of Kevin Landrigan's report in today's Nashua Telegraph.
The State Senate shipped off to political oblivion Wednesday the proposed expansion of the death penalty to cover home invasions in memory of Kimberly Cates who was slain in Mont Vernon.
Opponents said it would be premature to adjust the capital murder law in any way while a high-powered commission completes a comprehensive, cost versus benefit analysis of the death penalty versus life without the possibility of parole.
“It is fully appropriate to wait for the commission to complete their work and address this issue as part of their deliberations,” said State Sen. Beth Reynolds, D-Plymouth.
The heinous killing of Cates and attempted killing of her daughter, Jaimie, 11, has left families feeling unsafe in their homes, said Sen. Sheila Roberge, R-Bedford, who sponsored the bill (SB 472).
“Do any of us feel safe when this can happen? I don’t think so,” said Roberge, whose district includes Mont Vernon.
The Cates murder shattered the notion that the home invasion murder of a Hanover couple a decade ago was an isolated incident and could never happen again in what’s recognized as one of the safest states in the country, she continued.
The Senate voted along party lines to send the bill to interim study that effectively means it will have to start over as a new bill in 2011.
All 14 Senate Democrats favored the study move while all 10 Senate Republicans opposed it.
The commission won’t complete its work until Dec. 1, a month after voters elect a new Legislature.
In the Union Leader, Tom Fahey writes, "Senate kills bill to extend death penalty to home invasion cases."
The Senate voted 14-10 today to send back for more detailed study a bill to apply the death penalty in home invasion murder cases.
The bill was a response to the October murder of Kimberly Cates and the machete attack on her 11-year-old daughter in their Mont Vernon home.
Democrats turned back Republican efforts to pass the bill, SB 472, on a straight party-line vote to study it through the summer. The move effectively kills the bill for this legislative session.
The change in law would not affect the sentencing of the two teens who face first-degree murder charges for the late-night home invasion attack on Cates. They face a mandatory life-without-parole sentence if convicted of the charge. Three alleged accomplices have already pleaded guilty to charges connected to the case.
Democrats argued that a commission is still examining all aspects of the state's death penalty laws, so changing the laws at this time would be premature.