Bill to repeal death penalty in Maryland passed by committee, 6-5

Attempt to push death penalty to referendum fails

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A flurry of attempted amendments were voted on Thursday as members of Maryland's Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee met to hear final arguments on a repeal of the death penalty.

Senator Chris Shank of Washington County introduced the first, an amendment that would turn the debate over the death penalty into a statewide referendum. It was a move that got mixed reviews.

"We would like the public to have their say on this," said Sen. Joseph Getty (R-Baltimore and Carroll).

Meanwhile, others spoke out against the move, suggesting they didn't feel the public would vote against ending the death penalty in Maryland.

"If you oppose the death penalty, you oppose this (referendum) amendment," said Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County).

After a heated discussion, the amendment to change the death penalty repeal to a statewide referendum failed in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, 6-5.

In response, Senator James Brochin (D-Baltimore County), who does not support the death penalty, introduced an amendment that would make the death penalty an option only in cases with solid DNA evidence. That amendment also failed, 6-5. Brochin then attempted an amendment to only allow the death penalty in the "worst of worst" situations (multiple murder offenders). That amendment failed, 6-5.

Brochin's final amendment was the last proposed before final arguments on the death penalty repeal began.

As with other votes, the committee moved to repeal the death penalty, 6-5. The vote will now move to the Senate as the death penalty repeal gained more ground.

Check back with ABC2 News as we continue to follow this story.

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