"Md. Senate keeps death penalty repeal bill intact," is the AP report filed by Michelle Janaye Nealy, via CT Post.
Gov. Martin O' Malley's efforts to repeal the death penalty were buoyed Friday when senators in favor of repeal rebuffed an amendment that would allow execution in certain cases.
In a 27-19 vote, senators rejected a clause to permit the death sentence in cases where a person has been found guilty of heinous crime.
State Sen. Richard Colburn, who introduced the measure, recounted the gruesome details of the 2009 kidnapping of 11-year-old Sarah Foxwell, who was sexually assaulted and killed on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
"Think about what happened to this poor, innocent girl," the Eastern Shore Republican said.
Baltimore City Democrat Sen. Lisa Gladden, who supports the repeal, countered by saying, "What I want for these types of offenders, I want them to sit every day and think about what happened. Then when they get tired of thinking about what happened, I want them to think about it again."
The Senate broke for recess after a three-hour floor session, but is scheduled to take up more amendments Monday. A final vote on the bill could come as early as Tuesday.
"Death penalty repeal clears a key test vote in Senate," by Michael Dresser at the Baltimore Sun.
The Senate paused its debate of a bill that would make Maryland the 18th state in the nation to eliminate the death penalty after advocates of repeal won a key test vote.
Senators voted 27-19 Friday to reject an amendment that would have created an exception to repeal for especially heinous murders.
Supporters of death penalty repeal expressed confidence that they have enough votes to defeat all the other amendments expected to be offered when the Senate resumes debate Monday. And they expressed confidence they will prevail on the final Senate vote.
"It's clear we have 26 public votes. I don't expect any of them to waver," said Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions. It takes 24 votes to pass a bill in the 47-member Senate.
The Annapolis Capital Gazette posts, "Senate begins debate on death penalty repeal bill," by Alex Jackson.
O'Malley's bill, Senate Bill 276, would make Maryland the 18th state to outlaw capital punishment.
The bill is expected to clear the Senate, where a majority support it.
But as many as 10 amendments could be introduced next week to try to alter the bill, said Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions. Henderson's group supports the death penalty repeal.
"There's obviously a long way to go," Henderson said. "But we know we have 26 people who have publicly said they would vote for the bill."
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Feb. 21 voted 6-5 to approve the repeal bill.
Under the proposal, life without parole would become the highest level of punishment.
"Death penalty repeal bill clears early hurdle in Maryland Senate debate," at the Washington Post, by John Wagner.
Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), who is shepherding O’Malley’s bill through the chamber, said he considered the vote on the Colburn amendment an “excellent harbinger” of where senators are on the underlying legislation.
The bill requires 24 votes to pass. Twenty-six senators have said publicly that they intend to vote for it. Joining them in opposition to Colburn’s amendment Friday was Sen. Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard), who said he is continuing to wrestle with how to vote on the bill itself.
During Friday’s floor debate, Raskin acknowledged that there are cases such as Foxwell’s where vengeance is an understandable emotion. But he argued that “death is different” and the state cannot correct a mistake after executing someone.
“With the death penalty, there is no going back,” he said.
Raskin and several other senators made reference to Kirk Bloodsworth, a former death row inmate who was later exonerated by DNA evidence. Bloodsworth watched Friday’s debate from the Senate gallery.
Earlier coverage of the Maryland repeal legislation begins at the link.