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Opponents Of Maryland Death Penalty Rally In Annapolis

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Demonstrators against the death penalty gathered outside the Maryland state house in Annapolis on Monday.
Elliott Francis
Demonstrators against the death penalty gathered outside the Maryland state house in Annapolis on Monday.

Opponents of Maryland's death penalty law rallied outside the state house Monday.  Many on Lawyer's Mall outside the state capital were members of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions supporting a bill urging state legislators to repeal the death penalty during this session of the General Assembly.

The measure, co-sponsored by Gov. Martin O'Malley, also includes a provision to grant $500,000 of aid money to provide support services for the families of murder victims. The relatives of at least five victims of homicide were among the protestors hoping to lobby legislators in the state house Monday.

During O'Malley's first attempt to repel the death penalty back in 2007, the governor argued that the law — which has been in place for more than three decades — is an ineffective and costly solution for the punishment of a capital crime.

Bonita Spikes' husband was an innocent bystander when he was gunned down in a convenience store robbery 20 years ago. Spikes explained why, despite her husband's tragic end, she opposes the death penalty.

"A lot of crime comes from people with mental illness, so I think we should address mental illness and give resources for that instead of just locking people up and executing them," she said on the sidelines of Monday's rally.  

Marty Price's father shot and killed his stepmother and stepsister. Price, who spent many years in therapy, says if the bill passes it will help family members of victims afford the level of counseling and support they need.

"The whole death penalty thing, I get it, eye for an eye and that sort of thing," he says. "But when you are an actual victim's family member that has gone through this, those resources have to be in place."

 A recent poll commissioned by the state shows voters in Maryland divided on the issue of the death penalty with 42 percent in favor of repeal and 48 percent opposed.  The bill has attracted 21 cosponsors so far, which is just three sponsors shy of the necessary majority in the state senate, according to supporters.

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