Current Death Penalty Laws in Maryland
When a defendant is convicted of murder in the first degree in Maryland, the prosecutor may ask the jury to issue a sentence of death. Maryland law defines murder in the first degree as murder with one or more of the following aggravating circumstances:
- A deliberate, premeditated, and willful killing.
- Committed by lying in wait.
- Committed by poison.
- Committed in the perpetration of or an attempt to perpetrate arson, burglary, carjacking, escape from prison, kidnapping, mayhem, rape, robbery, sexual offense, sodomy, or bomb-making.
- If the offender willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation intended the death of a law enforcement officer.
Death sentences in Maryland are carried out via lethal injection in a three-phased approach: 1) an anesthetic drug, 2) a paralytic drug, and 3) a drug that stops the heart called potassium chloride.
False Convictions and Death Penalty
Kirk Bloodsworth was the first death row inmate in the country to be exonerated by DNA testing. In 1984, he was sentenced to death for allegedly raping and murdering a 9-year-old girl in Maryland. Ultimately, Mr. Bloodsworth was exonerated and released in 1993 after DNA evidence was made available. He then began a crusade to put an end to the death penalty in the United States.
As of September 2011, 273 people including 17 death row inmates, have been exonerated by use of DNA tests. There is a growing awareness among lawmakers that wrongful convictions are a reality in the criminal justice system, and many states have repealed death sentences.
Maryland Planning to Repeal Death Sentence Law
In January of this year, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley stated that he will make repealing the State’s current death penalty law. Under his proposal, Senate Bill 276, life-without-parole would become the highest level of punishment. Although there is some opposition to the bill, it will likely pass. Two amendments to the bill were proposed, but were voted out: these were 1) allow the death penalty only if there is DNA evidence and 2)allow the death penalty if a person commits more than one murder in the first degree.
Fighting for Your Freedom
Laws were never perfect, nor will they ever be. The same is true with our criminal justice system. When someone is charged with a serious crime, this becomes more apparent to them than ever. Unfortunately, innocence alone is sometimes not enough to acquire a not-guilty verdict from a jury. Never chance your life if you’re charged with a crime – immediately contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.