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By Stephanie Hanes and Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF | May 2, 2003
Lawyers for one of Maryland's most notorious death row inmates were once again before the Court of Appeals yesterday, this time arguing that a Baltimore County judge used an unconstitutional decision-making process when he sentenced Steven Oken to death in 1991. It was the fourth time the state's highest court has heard an appeal from Oken, who was convicted 12 years ago of raping and murdering 20-year-old Dawn Marie Garvin of White Marsh. As has become typical in these proceedings, the courtroom was packed with death penalty opponents, mournful family members and at least one person holding a sign that said Oken should die. The legal issue yesterday was whether a recent Supreme Court decision in an Arizona case means that Maryland judges and juries have been using the wrong standard of proof in deciding whether someone should be sentenced to death.
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NEWS
By Mary Carole McCauley and Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun | May 29, 2010
When 6-year-old Connor Johns visits Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens on Monday, he will be wearing the combat fatigues that his half-brother, Jordan, picked out for him before he was deployed in Afghanistan. "He wears that outfit constantly," said Kandy Poole Johns, the boys' mother. "Connor loved Jordan, looked up to him as his hero and will always remember him as a Marine." Twenty-four-year-old Lance Cpl. Jordan Chrobot of Frederick, who died last Sept. 26 during a firefight in Helmand province, was one of 10 Marylanders killed in Afghanistan since last Memorial Day. The state's 12-month toll is the highest since the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom in response to the attacks of Sept.
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NEWS
By Justin Fenton and Justin Fenton,Sun reporter | March 4, 2007
Two capital murder cases that were moved to Harford County are moving forward as legislators in Annapolis weigh a statewide repeal of the death penalty. Tomorrow, jury selection begins in the case of Travis Davon Terry, a 24-year-old Baltimore man accused of fatally shooting a longtime friend in a Dundalk apartment building two years ago. A motions hearing is scheduled next month for Kevin G. Johns Jr., a convicted murderer who is accused of strangling a fellow inmate aboard a bus carrying prisoners to Baltimore's Supermax prison in 2005.
NEWS
October 13, 2009
The fundamental question to be asked about the "serious flaws" that a legislative panel reviewing Maryland's death penalty protocols has found in how the state executes condemned inmates is this: Are there substantive ethical and legal problems with the procedure that require further study before executions can proceed, as panel members insist? Or is the finding merely an excuse to extend the de facto moratorium on executions that has existed since 2006, as death penalty supporters argue?
NEWS
By Ivan Penn and Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF | July 4, 1997
With the execution of Flint Gregory Hunt, 16 prisoners remain on Maryland's death row, and it appears that Tyrone Delano Gilliam could be next to face lethal injection.If Gilliam's death sentence is not overturned, he could be VTC executed as early as next summer -- a year after Hunt, who was put to death at 12: 27 a.m. Wednesday for the 1985 murder of Baltimore police Officer Vincent J. Adolfo.Gilliam of Rosedale was convicted in 1989 of the murder of Christine J. Doerfler, 21, of Baltimore during a robbery that netted $3. Doerfler was killed by a single shotgun blast to the head at the end of Gum Spring Road in a secluded area near the intersection of Interstates 95 and 695.A co-defendant testified that Gilliam shot the woman because she saw the killer's face.
NEWS
By GREGORY KANE | December 3, 2005
So another Maryland death row inmate is scheduled to take the lethal injection needle. And, again, anti-death penalty activists have yanked out their ever-handy race card. Wesley Baker killed Jane Tyson in 1991 on the parking lot of Westview Mall in Catonsville. Not even the presence of Tyson's two grandchildren deterred Baker. He was sentenced to death for the crime, and his death warrant says he should be executed sometime next week. Baker is black. His victim was white. Death penalty opponents point to that to support their claim that Maryland's death penalty is racist.
NEWS
By Sarah Koenig and Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF | April 8, 2001
Lawmakers pushing for a moratorium on executions in Maryland are steeling themselves to fight again tomorrow on the Senate floor. But despite their war-room strategies and optimistic public predictions, the outlook for their bill is decidedly bleak. Moratorium supporters believe they have a very slim majority in the 47-member Senate. But a debate that stretched into early yesterday proved repeatedly they have nowhere near the 32 votes required to break a filibuster begun Friday night. When the chamber takes up the measure tomorrow - the last day of the General Assembly session - they will be under intense pressure to surrender so the Senate can act on dozens of other bills before the clock runs out at midnight.
NEWS
March 13, 2002
IF YOU SO much as steal a pack of gum in Maryland, your guilt and sentence would be determined according to the highest legal standard: beyond a reasonable doubt. But when Maryland jurors make the most important legal decision - whether to allow the state to put someone to death - the standard drops, to a preponderance of the evidence. That means they only have to be pretty sure, maybe 51 percent sure, they're making the right decision. It's a philosophical incongruity that cheapens the judicial process.
NEWS
March 16, 2002
MARYLAND IS a pro-death-penalty state, with a pro-death-penalty legislature. So it's understandable - if regrettable - that bills seeking moratoriums on executions or the abolition of capital punishment don't get much due in Annapolis. But two bills quashed by a Senate committee last week weren't about supporting or decrying capital punishment. They were about ensuring that the ultimate punishment is meted out by the highest standards - a concern that ought to be shared by advocates and opponents alike.
NEWS
April 21, 2002
THERE'S MORE that's wrong with Illinois' death penalty than there is that's right. Too many ways for the innocent to be executed, too broad and vague a description of what death-eligible crimes are, too many opportunities for injustice to impinge upon the process. But the governor in that state knows capital punishment isn't working. And two years ago, Gov. George Ryan called a halt to executions and appointed a commission to study ways to flatten the wrinkles of unfairness that appear throughout the system.
NEWS
May 8, 2009
The death penalty law Gov. Martin O'Malley signed Thursday didn't give opponents of capital punishment everything they wanted, but it marked a significant step toward ending executions in Maryland by significantly narrowing the circumstances under which the ultimate punishment can be imposed. Under the new law, prosecutors may seek the death penalty only in cases where there is DNA or biological evidence, a videotape of the crime or a video-recorded confession by the killer. The new limitations make Maryland's death penalty law among the most restrictive in the country.
NEWS
By Julie Bykowicz and Julie Bykowicz,julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com | March 21, 2009
A House of Delegates committee approved the Senate's plan yesterday to restrict capital punishment to cases with specific kinds of evidence, a major step toward added limitations on Maryland's death penalty that could receive final legislative approval as soon as next week. Gov. Martin O'Malley had called on the Senate to abolish the death penalty, and the House appeared poised to follow suit. But the governor urged delegates this week to abandon the repeal in favor of the Senate plan.
NEWS
February 28, 2009
Maryland will be better off without the death penalty ("Senate may debate death penalty repeal," Feb. 26). Repeal would allow Maryland to develop policies that are more effective at preventing crime and helping victims' families. The flaws in capital punishment, which were reflected in the hearings of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, have been well researched and well known for decades: * It does not deter crime. * It costs much more than the alternatives. * It drags out the suffering of victims' families rather than bringing them closure.
NEWS
February 1, 2009
Gov. Martin O'Malley's decision to take the lead on repealing Maryland's death penalty has revived the up-to-now moribund chances of overturning the law. For the first time in years, there's talk that legislation to repeal capital punishment has a shot to emerge from a Senate committee, where it has been stuck because of entrenched opponents. Mr. O'Malley has long opposed the death penalty and spoken out against it. But putting the power of his office and his skills of personal persuasion behind a repeal bill will add considerable heft to the fight.
NEWS
By Jennifer McMenamin | November 16, 2008
When the New Jersey legislature voted late last year to repeal the death penalty, it did so on the heels of a near-unanimous recommendation from a state commission that said capital punishment was too costly, too arbitrary and too tough on victims' families to justify the risk of an irreversible mistake. So when Maryland lawmakers created a panel to study the issue, death penalty opponents hoped it would produce a similar recommendation and provide the boost needed to repeal the death penalty law. Last week, they got that recommendation - but on a much closer vote than in New Jersey, where the margin was 12-1.
NEWS
November 14, 2008
Maryland's death penalty law violates the most basic standards of fairness and decency. That's the conclusion of a state commission on capital punishment, and it should prompt citizens to insist that lawmakers bring the issue to a vote when they convene in Annapolis next year. The panel found, among other things, that the death penalty does not deter crime and is arbitrary and capricious, biased against African-Americans and fraught with risk for executing innocent people. During public hearings, the commissioners heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed a large body of evidence pointing to the inescapable fact that the state's death penalty law is so deeply flawed that no amount of tinkering is likely to bring it into accord with the principals of equal justice.
NEWS
May 8, 2002
IN LESS than four months, Gov. Parris N. Glendening will get the results of a study he commissioned to determine whether racial bias taints decisions about who gets the death penalty in Maryland. But next week, the governor is due to authorize the execution of Wesley Eugene Baker -- a black man whose conviction and sentence for killing a white woman make manifest the very issues the study will address. Killing Mr. Baker before the study's results are known would be a grievous absurdity.
NEWS
By Sarah Koenig and Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF | August 6, 2002
A one-line summary of where Maryland's two leading gubernatorial candidates stand on the death penalty would imply they are of equal minds: Both believe people should die for committing certain crimes. But a closer examination of their positions, especially on the state's temporary halt to executions, shows significant philosophical differences. And it offers insight into how they make decisions. The death penalty and the fairness of its application has yet to become a major issue in the governor's race.
NEWS
September 25, 2008
In a democracy, there can be no greater miscarriage of justice than the execution of an innocent person. Yet this week, the state of Georgia came frighteningly close to that possibility in the case of Troy A. Davis, a death row inmate awaiting execution for the 1989 killing of a Savannah police officer. His conviction was based almost entirely on the statements of nine purported eyewitnesses, seven of whom later recanted their testimony. Mr. Davis was only hours from execution when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay.
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