Friday June 24th, 2022 5:43PM

Last 4 on Md. death row to have sentences commuted

By The Associated Press
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- In one of his final acts as governor, Democrat Martin O'Malley announced Wednesday that he will commute the sentences of Maryland's four remaining death-row inmates to life in prison.<br /> <br /> Two years ago, the General Assembly abolished the death penalty in the state, making the ultimate sentence in new cases life in prison without the possibility of parole.<br /> <br /> That left five previously sentenced inmates on death row; one of them, John Booth-El, died in prison this year. Maryland's attorney general has argued that executing prisoners would be illegal without an existing death penalty law.<br /> <br /> "The question at hand is whether any public good is served by allowing these essentially un-executable sentences to stand," O'Malley said in a statement. "In my judgment, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland - present or future."<br /> <br /> The governor said he had met or spoken with many of the relatives of the people killed by the inmates, and he thanked them for talking with him about the cases.<br /> <br /> But he said that his failing to act at this point in the legal process would "needlessly and callously subject survivors, and the people of Maryland, to the ordeal of an endless appeals process, with unpredictable twists and turns, and without any hope of finality or closure."<br /> <br /> O'Malley will leave office next month after having served two terms, the limit in Maryland.<br /> <br /> "We would like to thank Gov. O'Malley for taking what was a tough and courageous moral decision," Gary Proctor, one of the attorneys for death-row inmate Heath Burch, said in a statement. "It was indeed time that Maryland's machinery of death was consigned to the history books."<br /> <br /> Mary Frances Moore, whose father and stepmother were fatally stabbed by Burch in 1995 in Capitol Heights, said she was "devastated" by the governor's decision and got the sense when she spoke to O'Malley that he had already made up his mind.<br /> <br /> "I think he was hoping I would give him the OK on it, to give him life without parole, and I didn't give him that," Moore, 71, said Wednesday from her home in Boonsboro.<br /> <br /> She added that she fears a future governor could decide to grant parole to Burch. "I just don't feel they should have this power," Moore said.<br /> <br /> Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger, a death penalty supporter, also criticized the governor's decision. Two of Maryland's death-row inmates, Anthony Grandison and Vernon Evans, were convicted in the 1983 contract killing in Baltimore County of two witnesses who were scheduled to testify against Grandison in a federal drug case.<br /> <br /> "Death was the decision of the jury. These sentences were lawfully imposed and upheld numerous times on appeal," Shellenberger said in a statement. "The governor should not be using his last days in office to show any mercy to these cold, calculating killers."<br /> <br /> Robert Biddle, an attorney for death row inmate Jody Lee Miles, argued in a letter to O'Malley last month that the governor should not commute his client's sentence to life without parole because Miles "deserves the opportunity to make a case" in court for a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Biddle declined to comment Wednesday beyond what he said in the letter.<br /> <br /> Miles was convicted of a 1997 death in Mardela Springs, on Maryland's Eastern Shore.<br /> <br /> Democratic Attorney General Doug Gansler, who is also leaving office next month, argued three weeks ago before a state appellate court that Miles should be re-sentenced to life without parole.<br /> <br /> He outlined two main reasons. First, Maryland's highest court ruled in 2006 that a legislative panel needed to approve protocols for lethal injection before an execution could take place, a step that has yet to be taken. Second, when lawmakers banned capital punishment last year, Gansler said they also repealed a law that enabled the state's prison system to introduce lethal injection protocols.<br /> <br /> While his arguments applied directly only to Miles, Gansler said they opened a door for attorneys for the other three inmates to seek new sentences.<br /> <br />
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 5 years ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 5 years ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 5 years ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 5 years ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 5 years ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 5 years ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 5 years ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 5 years ago )
Tropical Storm Eta floods already drenched Florida cities
Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Eta is causing dangerous flooding across Florida’s most densely populated urban areas
6:14PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Tropical Storm Eta dumps rain on an already flooded Florida
Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Eta is causing dangerous flooding across Florida’s most densely populated urban areas
5:51PM ( 1 hour ago )
As cases rise, states say they'll work with Biden on virus
As the coronavirus keeps spreading faster, President-elect Joe Biden is calling for coordination with states, something that officials and public health experts say has not been strong enough so far
5:45PM ( 1 hour ago )
Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is looking 90% effective
Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19
5:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
Groups fight to keep gray wolf protections for most of US
Wildlife advocates and environmental groups are challenging the removal of federal protections for gray wolves across most of the U.S. Two coalitions of groups have filed notice that they plan to sue the U.S. Interior Department in federal court unless protections are restored
3:34PM ( 3 hours ago )