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Rosenberg: Pass Senate Death Penalty Bill

The lead House sponsor of a bill to repeal Maryland's death penalty has reversed course and is now urging his colleagues to support a Senate bill that instead tightens evidence rules in capital cases.

"I have concluded that the likelihood of executing an innocent person will be significantly reduced by the enactment of [the Senate bill]," Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg (D-Baltimore) said in a statement. "This legislation would place important new restrictions on the types of cases in which prosecutors can seek the death penalty."

Less than two weeks ago, when the bill passed the Senate, Rosenberg called it "not the kind of incremental progress we should be satisfied with."

Senators started considering a bill sponsored by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) to repeal the death penalty but amended it to require either DNA, videotaped confessions or videotaped crimes to proceed with capital cases. That bill is now pending in the House.

A hearing on both Rosenberg's bill and the Senate bill is scheduled for Tuesday. An aide to O'Malley confirmed this afternoon that he plans to testify and offer support for the Senate bill as well.

Rosenberg is asking his colleagues to pass the bill without further amendments. Doing so would send it directly to O'Malley. Otherwise, the bill could languish in a conference committee in the closing weeks of the legislative session.

While Rosenberg is urging passage of the Senate bill, he said he still thinks "the money spent on death penalty cases could be used instead to target career offenders, protect at-risk children, and identify youthful offenders who are on the road to becoming murderers."

By John Wagner  |  March 13, 2009; 1:23 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , John Wagner  
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So now biological evidence is no longer required; DNA is required?! So fingerprints are not enough to convict a person of a capital crime? What about the victim's blood splatter on the killer's clothes? Or does the new law now require the killer's DNA to be collected at the crime scene?!

Reasonable evidentiary standards are appropriate. even high standards. Demanding perp DNA is not reasonable and will crush what remains of MD's empty shell of a death penalty.

Senators should have killed the repeal effort earlier on.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | March 13, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

As long as the death penalty is repealed eventually, I don't care how the process evolves.
Over 700 people who were sentenced to die have been exonerated. What does that tell you about our justice system and the effectiveness on non-DNA evidence on capturing perps?

Posted by: palipride47 | March 13, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

If in fact that statistic is true, it tells me our system works.

Posted by: asdf2 | March 13, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

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