Lawmakers approve measure to ban Maryland's death penalty

On Friday the General Assembly passed the repeal of the death penalty in Maryland, becoming the 18 th state to do so.

 The House of Delegates voted 82 to 56 Friday to pass a bill already approved by the Senate.

"In so doing, at least removes Maryland from the ranks of other places in this world including Iraq, Iran, North Korea and others that still do have public executions," said Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-Maryland).

"This is what courageous, principled, political leadership looks like," said Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP.

But despite all the celebrating today, capital punishment isn't gone just yet.

Opponents point out that the bill's "effective date" is October 1st of this year, so -- in theory -- any murder committed before that could put the killer at risk of the death penalty.

Like, for example, the murder of William "Ray" Porter, at the Hess gas station on Joppa Road in Towson back in 2010.

Police say Porter's wife, Karla, hired another man to kill him.

Prosecutors have been pushing for the death penalty in the case.

"When you plan a murder, you purchase a gun and you open the door so that they can come in and shoot your husband to death, yeah I think that person is eligible for the death penalty and should get it," said Scott Shellenberger, the Baltimore County State's Attorney.

Shellenberger says he will be meeting with his staff to decide whether to continue that push -- Karla Porter's trial is scheduled to begin in August, two months before the repeal goes into effect.

"I know she can be prosecuted because that was the law when she committed her crime and that will be the law when her case goes to trial," Shellenberger said.

The repeal also does not cover the five men currently on Maryland's death row, although Governor O'Malley has made it clear he will not be ordering any executions while he's in office.

 

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