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Maryland Senate Passes Death Penalty Repeal

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Lawmakers narrowly voted down an exception to the death penalty repeal 24-to-21 that would have applies to school shooters.
Matt Bush
Lawmakers narrowly voted down an exception to the death penalty repeal 24-to-21 that would have applies to school shooters.

Maryland is another step closer to abolishing the death penalty, as the Maryland Senate braved the snowquester to storm to approve the legislation Wednesday.

The bill passed by a vote of 27-20. It would abolish capital punishment in the state and make life without parole the steepest penalty a criminal can face.

Previous efforts to repeal the death penalty, most recently in 2009, have been stopped in the Senate. Supporters of abolishing capital punishment, like governor Martin O'Malley, viewed today's vote as the most important in reaching their goal.

The bill now heads to the House of Delegates, where similar measures have been supported in previous years. Opponents of the repeal have vowed to get the matter before voters via referendum next year.

The vote came after three days of attempted changes, as well as length floor debate Wednesday morning. One of the final amendments that was defeated, and by the closest margin, would have allowed for the death penalty for those convicted of mass shootings at schools.

State Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-34) urged her colleagues to accept the change in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre.

"The person that killed our children, our grandchildren, our teachers, our janitors... whomever was in there, deserves the worst of the worst," Jacobs said.

Supporters of the bill say any exceptions to a repeal would have undermined the purpose of the bill — to repeal capital punishment. The vote could be delayed by the weather, though Senate president Mike Miller does expect to be in session despite the snow.

If the bill passes, Maryland would become the 18th state to repeal the death penalty.

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