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Death Penalty Debate Continues In Maryland

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland’s death penalty debate continues with pressure from prosecutors to have the state approve protocols for lethal injections.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains executions in the state are on hold until lawmakers take a stand.

Witnesses to the lethal injection execution of Tyrone Gilliam in 1998 were shaken.

“I’m just not sure as to where I stand after watching this,” said one.

Others have found the method of execution less jolting.

“It was very peaceful,” said a witness.

Arguments against lethal injection were made in 2005 on behalf of convicted killer Wesley Baker, whose mother thanked protestors for their efforts.

“Oh, I appreciate it 100 percent,” she said.

But the feelings for the victims also carry great weight.

“She did not get 14 years of appeals.  She did not have people protesting to save her life,” said one father.

Since the Baker execution, the state has been ordered by the court to approve the protocol—the drugs, the method and the practitioners used in executions.  Until that happens, the practice is on hold.

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller feels the committee in charge is stalling.

“The chairman has sat on the issue for a long, long time.  We’ve asked to take it up for a vote,” Miller said.

President Miller supports capital punishment, but Governor Martin O’Malley does not.  The governor led a failed effort to repeal the death penalty in 2009 but signed a law imposing stricter requirements.  Death penalty opponents aren’t finished.

“There’s no humane way to put someone to death,” said Dr. Terry Fitzgerald.

The committee charged with approving the protocol can either approve or reject Maryland’s method of execution.  A decision is expected this month.

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