MD Repeal of Death Penalty Could Face Voters (Update)
Governor Signs Repeal
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland has become the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to abolish the death penalty in more than 50 years.
Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the measure at a crowded ceremony on Thursday. Attending was one-time Maryland death row inmate Kirk Bloodsworth. He is the first person in the U.S. freed because of DNA evidence after being convicted in a death penalty case.
West Virginia did away with capital punishment in 1965.
The bill will not apply to the five men the state has on death row, but the governor can commute their sentences to life without parole. O'Malley has said he will consider them on a case-by-case basis.
The state's last execution was in 2005.
Supporters of the death penalty could still try to petition the bill to the ballot.
Death Penalty Supporters Respond
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland death penalty supporters have scheduled an announcement in Baltimore, a day after Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a repeal measure into law.
Del. Neil Parrott and Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger have scheduled a news conference Friday.
Parrott, who is chairman of MDPetitions.com, already has brought petition language to the Maryland State Board of Elections to check in advance that the language is legally sufficient. The Washington County Republican declined to comment before the news conference about whether he would be announcing a petition drive.
They would need to get 55,736 signatures to petition the measure to referendum in November 2014. They would need to get one-third of those signatures by midnight May 31 to qualify to move forward.