ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — There are reports that Governor Martin O’Malley is considering commuting death sentences for Maryland’s four death row inmates. The governor has reached out to victims’ family members in the cases. Some are begging him to leave the convicted killers on death row.
Meghan McCorkell has more from the families.
The state of Maryland repealed the death penalty last year but that did not include the four inmates that currently sit on death row.
On death row for nearly 20 years, Heath Burch confessed to killing Mary Francis Moore’s father and stepmother.
“If you take a life, you should give your life up,” she said.
But, in 2006, a Court of Appeals struck down Maryland’s lethal injection procedures. Since he can’t be executed, the governor is now considering commuting Burch’s sentence to life in prison. Monday, Moore asked him not to.
“I said something about `I think that I would like to see you not sign anything and let this go back to the court,'” she said.
But that’s what the family of murder victim Edward Atkinson is trying to avoid. In 1997, the Wicomico County man was shot to death on the side of a road by Jody Lee Miles. Miles is now appealing his death penalty conviction. Atkinson’s mother says she can’t take another court battle.
“No other family should have to go through what we have been through,” said Dottie Atkinson.
She wants the governor to intervene.
Two of the other death row inmates were convicted in a double murder in Baltimore County. They’ve sat on death row for more than three decades.
Drug kingpin Anthony Grandison ordered Vernon Evans to gun down two federal witnesses in the lobby of a Pikesville hotel in 1983. Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger argues death row is where they belong.
“These cases were incredibly heinous. I believe that their death sentences should remain in effect,” he said.
Now the decision is in the governor’s hands.
Moore says the governor did not indicate to her what he plans to do.
Miles’ conviction appeal will go in front of a court next month. The attorney general is recommending the court vacate his sentence.
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