The Washington Post

Attempts to amend O’Malley’s death penalty bill fail in Maryland Senate

Supporters of a bill to repeal Maryland’s death penalty turned back eight amendments Monday night in the Senate intended to create exceptions under which convicted killers could still be executed.

Debate over the bill, a priority of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), began Friday and is expected to resume Tuesday morning, with a final Senate vote possible later in the day.

The amendments rejected by the Senate in oftentimes emotional debate Monday included exceptions for people who murder police officers and inmates who kill while in prison.

Senators heard about about Vincent J. Adolfo, a Baltimore police officer who was shot and killed in 1985 while attempting to arrest a man who had just fled from officers in a stolen vehicle.

And they heard about David McGuinn, a corrections officer who was stabbed to death in 2006 in the maximum-security Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.

“The safety and protection of our law enforcement officers are absolutely critical to how our society works,” said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin (R-Cecil), who proposed the exception for killers of police.

Supporters of the repeal bill prevailed on each amendment. Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), who is shepherding O’Malley’s bill through the chamber, argued that while people’s“blood boils” at some of the atrocities detailed on the Senate floor, the death was not a deterrent in any of those cases.

“The death penalty did not stop those murders,” Raskin said.

None of the amendments offered Monday received more than 20 votes, shy of the 24 that would be needed to change the bill.

If the bill passes the Senate, it would head next to the House of Delegates, where supporters say they are confident they have lined up enough votes for passage.

O’Malley is trying to make Maryland the 18th state to repeal the death penalty.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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