Senate panel rejects change in death-penalty criteria

Miller bid to ease prosecution countered by Frosh

March 24, 2010|By Julie Bykowicz | julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

It appears that Maryland lawmakers this year will not be making it easier for prosecutors to pursue the death penalty.

The General Assembly revised the death penalty statute last year to require that prosecutors have DNA evidence, a videotaped confession by the killer or a video recording of the crime before filing capital murder charges. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and other legislators want fingerprints and still photographs to be added to the list of acceptable evidence.

But the leader of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Montgomery County Sen. Brian E. Frosh, added language to make it tougher for prosecutors to convince a jury that a criminal deserves to be executed. Frosh sought to raise the standard of proof when juries weigh aggravating factors versus mitigating circumstances.

Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat who helped defeat Gov. Martin O'Malley's effort last year to repeal the death penalty, said Frosh's maneuver and the committee's rejection of it show that "what we struck last year is probably the best compromise we're ever going to get."

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