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Death Penalty Opponents Continue Push For Repeal

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Repeal the death penalty.  That’s the message members of the General Asssembly heard Tuesday as death penalty opponents once again try to make their case.

Political reporter Pat Warren has more on the arguments made Tuesday.

The death penalty is another highly emotional issue in Annapolis that doesn’t line up along party lines but personal beliefs.

Maryland death penalty opponents have a message: never say die—not to the cause and not to the convicts.

“The only thing that should die is the death penalty,” said Kurt Bloodsworth.

Bloodsworth, a former death row inmate, was exonerated by DNA.  He was joined Tuesday by Vickie Schieber, whose campaign against capital punishment is in memory of her daughter.

“A beautiful, brilliant, talented girl raped and strangled to death,” Schieber said.

Still, she doesn’t believe in the death penalty.  Neither does Governor Martin O’Malley, who led a 2009 campaign against it.

“A knowledgeable person asked if I had 24 votes.  I said I had 22 and maybe the Holy Spirit can come  up with the other two.  Let’s give him a shot,” O’Malley said.

The result was a radical change in Maryland’s death penalty law, but it still hasn’t been repealed.  Its supporters are still unmoved.  Nor may it be repealed this session. 

“So far, we’ve been successful,” said Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore County State’s Attorney.

But opponents see no reason to stop trying. It’s a question of faith and politics.

“It would be like our names being on that death warrant,” Scheiber said.

There are more than 60 sponsors of the bill in the House and it could pass there. The trick will be to get it through the Senate.  The Senate has not heard the bill yet.

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