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Maryland briefing

Saturday, December 13, 2008

STATE GOVERNMENT

Panel Seeks End To Death Penalty

A state commission issued a report yesterday calling for the abolition of capital punishment in Maryland, foreshadowing what is expected to be a high-stakes battle in the legislative session that starts next month.

A majority of the commission, led by Benjamin R. Civiletti, a former U.S. attorney general, concluded that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder and creates the risk of executing innocent people. The panel also cited research showing racial and jurisdictional disparities in the state's application of capital punishment.

A minority of the commission members submitted a separate report asking the legislature not to repeal the death penalty.

Maryland has had a de facto moratorium on capital punishment since December 2006, when the state's highest court ruled that regulations governing executions had not been adopted properly. The administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), a death penalty opponent, has delayed issuing new regulations.

Gary D. Marynard, O'Malley's secretary of public safety and correctional services, said yesterday that updated regulations have been drafted. O'Malley has not indicated whether the regulations will be issued before resolution of the upcoming legislative debate.

-- John Wagner

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

D.C. Man Arrested In January Killing

A D.C. man has been arrested in the January slaying of Gennaro Fato, who was shot in his garage in Olney, Montgomery County police said yesterday.

Spiro Mehilli, 25, of the 800 block of Butternut Street NW, was charged with first-degree murder. Detectives said DNA evidence linked him to the crime scene.

Police have not determined a motive in the slaying but said Mehilli is a friend of Fato's stepson, Elis Kertusha.

On Jan. 23, Fato, 74, and his wife arrived at their house in the 3600 block of Martins Dairy Circle just before 10 p.m., police said. She went inside briefly and returned to find two men armed with a long-barreled gun confronting her husband.

-- Steve Hendrix

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