Today's Annapolis Capital Gazette reports, "Death penalty repeal vote may not happen until next week," by Alex Jackson.
Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to repeal the death penalty could wait until next week for a vote by the full Senate.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, said Senate Bill 276 won't be discussed by the chamber until Thursday afternoon, at the earliest.
With debate continuing on O'Malley's gun-control proposal into Thursday morning, Miller said there most likely wouldn't be time for senators to propose amendments to the bill until Friday. The Senate had originally scheduled the start of debate on the death penalty repeal bill for Wednesday.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last week voted 6-5 to approve the repeal bill, which would make Maryland the 18th state to outlaw capital punishment.
Twenty-four votes are needed to pass a bill in the Senate The bill has at least 25 supporters.
"Poll: Most Marylanders back O’Malley on gun laws but not on repeal of the death penalty," is by Aaron C. Davis and Peyton M. Craighill for the Washington Post. Infographics on the polling results are also available from the Post.
Marylanders overwhelmingly support Gov. Martin O’Malley’s plan to force gun buyers to submit to some of the nation’s strictest licensing requirements, including fingerprinting and safety training, according to a new Washington Post poll.
But a majority oppose O’Malley’s bid to abolish the death penalty, despite deep skepticism across the state about whether capital punishment is an effective deterrent, the poll found.
The mixed verdict on two of the governor’s leading priorities comes at a key juncture in the 90-day legislative session for O’Malley (D), who is trying to cement his progressive legacy in Maryland as he eyes a possible run for national office in 2016.
Across the state, fully 85 percent back the governor’s licensing plan — the centerpiece of a broader gun-control bill — and 73 percent do so “strongly,” according to the poll.
On Tuesday, the state Senate opened what promises to be several days of contentious debate on the legislation, which would also ban high-capacity ammunition clips and assault weapons — provisions that also enjoy broad support in the Post poll.
Although a majority of Marylanders continue to support the death penalty, some of the arguments O’Malley is making appear to resonate.
By nearly 2 to 1, those polled say that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder and does not lower the murder rate. And most who responded that way say they feel strongly about their view.
Moreover, nearly one-third of Marylanders — including nearly half of African Americans — say capital punishment has been applied unfairly in the state. That’s another argument O’Malley has advanced in a state where five men sit on death row but no executions have taken place since 2005.
Yet even when those arguments are stated explicitly — as well as questions that critics have raised about the morality of capital punishment — support for repeal is tepid among the public.
The Post also reports, "In Maryland, five wait on death row," by Theresa Vargas.
Vernon Lee Evans Jr. should have been dead by now. A prosecutor did his best to ensure that when he convinced a Maryland jury that Evans was among the worst of the worst, a killer who deserved a punishment more severe than a life spent in prison. He deserved, the prosecutor argued and the jury agreed, to die at the hands of the state.
That was nearly 30 years ago.
In the years since, the motel where Evans gunned down two employees has been replaced by a Howard Johnson. The star witness in the case, a woman who lost her husband and a sister that day, has died. And Evans, who in his own words has “rebuilt” his character, remains on Maryland’s death row, kept alive in a politically forged purgatory.
“In hindsight, it would have been better if he got life without parole,” David B. Irwin, the former prosecutor who handled the case, said recently. “But it wasn’t obvious to us as young prosecutors back then that this was the way it was going to turn out.”
As the state Senate prepares to vote this week on whether Maryland should abolish capital punishment, the Evans case illustrates what can happen when the death penalty exists but is not enforced.
Unlike Virginia, which has executed more than 100 people since 1976, including one man last month, Maryland has executed five people since it reinstituted the death penalty in 1978, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. No one has been executed in Maryland since 2005.
What is essentially a moratorium on capital punishment has been in place in Maryland since 2006, and since 2009, the state has required DNA evidence, a videotaped crime or a videotaped confession in capital cases.
Earlier coverage from Maryland begins at the link.