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MoCo Delegate's Emotional Appeal on Death Penalty

Rosalind Helderman

Del. Craig L. Rice (D-Montgomery), who this week shared the story of his murdered aunt and cousin with senators in an emailed plea for them to retain the death penalty in Maryland, said today that his story seems to be influencing colleagues. Rice said he is not convinced that a majority of the House of Delegates supports repeal, as has always been assumed.

Our colleague Marc Fisher filed a column this morning on Rice's family tragedy and his views on the death penalty.

In 1993, Rice's aunt, her quadriplegic son and his son's full-time nurse were killed in their Wheaton home. Their bodies were discovered by Rice's mother. Investigators eventually learned that the aunt's ex-husband had hired a hit man to kill the group, in hopes of inheriting money from a legal settlement related to his son's disability.

On Monday, just before Senators were set to have an emotional floor debate on the death penalty, Rice blast emailed senators with his story. The email concluded in capital letters, "PLEASE DO NOT REPEAL THE DEATH PENALTY."

"I've been hearing from a lot of senators who have said the letter gave them some different insight on the issue," Rice said today. "That was my objective, to make sure they were looking at it from all sides."

"It's not about vengeance," he said of his belief that the death penalty should be an option in the most egregious crimes. "It's about security and safety. It's about the peacefulness that comes from knowing this is a person who is not be able to do harm to anyone else, not a fellow inmate or a guard or even someone else if they escaped."

Rice said he supports the measure that ultimately emerged from the Senate, which would keep the death penalty but limit its use by raising the evidence standards needed to impose it.

But he said he knows some fellow delegates will push for a full repeal. He said he is uncertain whether that notion is as popular as long assumed in the House.

"I will continue to tell my story," he said. "As a result of it, there are a lot of people who have shared personal experiences of their own and have expressed support.

The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz also had a profile of Rice today.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 6, 2009; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , Montgomery County , Rosalind Helderman  
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I remember that murder. It was awful. The ex-husband was behind it.

Do I think that putting him and the hit-man to death would prevent some other fruitcake from thinking up an idiot scheme like this?


People who think up schemes to murder their own children for the money are so wacked out that the possibility of the death penalty or punishment isn't a factor.

To put a moron like the father to death is vengenance.

In my thinking the only justification for the death penalty is if it serves to deter someone else from commiting a crime.

Even though this crime is about as egregious as they come I don't see that wasting the resources necessary in this day and legal age to push a death penalty through would buy society anything beyond feeling a little better that justice had been done.

Frankly I'd also like to see the jerk that drowned his three children in Baltimore last year die an early death, but I don't want the state of Maryland to waste one more penny on him that is absolutely necessary. Better they use the money to listen to mothers who call worried about their ex-husbands and what they might do.

Posted by: RedBird27 | March 6, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The Death Penalty is only a deterrent for those who care, those who know that they will get caught or those who think about the possible outcomes. Few who commit murder care, think that they will get caught or think about the consequences. But we need to retain it for the really awful crimes. Maryland's compromise seems like a good one.

Posted by: vduny | March 6, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

A little vengeance goes a long way....

Posted by: swimmom3 | March 6, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

It's not about vengeance. It's not about deterrence. It's about retribution and it's about justice.

Posted by: trolly_time | March 6, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Civilized nations (or states) don't execute people in 2009. Period. It's just vestigial barbarism. Del. Rice's anecdote, while terrible, doesn't in any way change this simple, obvious fact.

Posted by: bflorhodes | March 6, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Close up the Thesaurus and stop splitting hairs. You bleeding hearts always think you know the difference between right and wrong... until it happens to you. Then you can think with a clear head.

Posted by: swimmom3 | March 6, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

If you don't think the premeditated assassination of a quadriplegic, his nurse and his mother for profit does not merit the death penalty, then you live on a different planet than I do.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | March 6, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Civilized nations (or states) don't execute people in 2009. Period. It's just vestigial barbarism. Del. Rice's anecdote, while terrible, doesn't in any way change this simple, obvious fact.

Posted by: bflorhodes | March 6, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Dude, that's not a fact, it's an opinion, despite your obvious attitude. Besides MD never puts anyone to death anyway so wtf.

Posted by: ronjaboy | March 6, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Never pay the least notion to someone who gilds his OPINION as "simple, obvious fact."

Posted by: stratman1 | March 6, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The death penalty seems to be an effective deterrent for those who receive it.

Posted by: PaKo7 | March 6, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

What is the death penalty if not the pre-meditated taking of a life ? Under the guise of "justice" , " retribution " "vengeance" or whatever, it is still taking the life of another. How does that separate one killer from another--the convicted or the State?

Posted by: jmsbh | March 6, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

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