A woman whose father and stepmother were killed two decades ago by one of Maryland’s death-row inmates said she repeatedly asked Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) not to commute the inmate’s sentences during a difficult 20-minute phone conversation on Monday.
“They died a horrible death, I told him,” said Mary Francis Moore of Boonsboro. “I said, ‘Governor, if I was you, I’d leave this alone and let the courts decide.’ ... Whether it did any good, God knows.”
Moore’s appeal comes amid speculation that O’Malley is considering commuting the sentences of Maryland’s four remaining men on death row. O’Malley, who leaves office in two months, has started reaching out to families of the victims, including Moore, 71.
In 1995, Heath Burch killed Moore’s father and his wife in their Capitol Heights home with a pair of scissors. At the time of the murders, Burch, a habitual drug user, was high on crack cocaine.
O’Malley’s office has declined to comment on conversations with victims’ families. Death penalty opponents have pressed the governor for more than a year to commute the four remaining capital sentences.
Moore said that O’Malley told her he has made no decisions about commutations, and that she made clear she would like to see Burch executed. O’Malley told her that he believes the state no longer has the ability to executive death-row inmates, Moore said.
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) issued a legal opinion this month that came to that conclusion.
There are no longer regulations in place on how to administer lethal injections in Maryland, and since the death penalty is no longer on the books, the state cannot develop new regulations, according to Gansler, who leaves office in January.
Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), the incoming attorney general, said over the weekend that he has discussed the issue with Gansler but needs to study it further before reaching his own conclusion.