A victory for killers?

SATURDAY MAILBOX

May 18, 2002

Score another victory for cold-blooded killers and a bitter defeat for law-abiding citizens who have been repeatedly victimized not only by the failings of Maryland's criminal justice system, but also by the liberal politicians who claim to have their best interest at heart ("Glendening halts executions," May 10).

Under the guise of concerns over racial inequality, Wesley Baker has temporarily escaped his date with death, not because there are any questions as to his guilt but because he is black.

The governor and lieutenant governor hide behind the "we need another racial study" charade, while diverting attention from themselves by portraying Baltimore County State's Attorney Sandra O'Connor as some kind of draconian renegade intent on executing all those who pass through her county.

The truth is that Ms. O'Connor eliminates bias from the decision-making process by seeking the death penalty in all cases that qualify, regardless of whether the defendant is white, black, green or blue.

If there are to be any studies, they should focus on what other jurisdictions, Baltimore City in particular, are doing wrong, not what Baltimore County is doing right.

Baltimore City has an atrocious practice of putting violent criminals back on the streets.

Whether this is because of the failings of prosecutors, judges, probation officers or juries, heinous criminals again and again walk away. It's not until they venture into Baltimore County to commit their crimes that the judicial system finally works.

A case in point is the four Baltimore thugs who shot and killed my brother, Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero, two years ago.

Prosecutors decided to seek the death penalty for Richard Moore, the trigger-man. However, because of recent decisions by the governor (such as changing the death sentence of convicted murderer Eugene Colvin-el to life in prison) and a groundswell of liberal opposition to the death penalty, our family reluctantly agreed to a plea agreement that did not include a death penalty.

While I personally wanted to continue to pursue a death sentence, I knew, based on the political climate, that it would be an exercise in futility.

And Mr. Glendening's May 9 announcement confirms that the death penalty in Maryland has no meaning.

For Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to espouse support for the death penalty, while pandering to those who oppose it, is the height of hypocrisy. They can't have it both ways - and its time for the voters to let them know it.

Lisa Ash

Odenton

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's decision to halt executions until a University of Maryland study is completed is pure politics and nothing more.

He should have halted executions when the study was commissioned. Has something new been brought to his attention about the application of the death penalty? No. The only new information is that Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is now officially running for governor.

In a bid to aid her cause, the governor issued this moratorium because she supports a moratorium.

Jane Tyson took her grandchildren to Westview Mall to go shopping. She had a good time with the children and decided to leave the mall to go home.

What did she receive for her love and kindness? The death penalty. A sentence imposed by Wesley Baker.

What does Mr. Baker get for his cruelty and evil? He gets TV, exercise, access to education, visits with his family, three meals a day and a bed to sleep in.

Will someone please show us law- abiding citizens the equality in this sentencing?

Jim Boston

Arbutus

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