- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2007

ANNAPOLIS - The drive to repeal the state’s death penalty this year is expected to end today in the Senate.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, Frederick Republican and the deciding vote on the Senate committee con- sidering the proposal, plans to submit an amendment that supporters of the repeal will not accept.

“Will I make either side perfectly happy? No,” said Mr. Mooney, who vowed to pray for an answer to the issue before taking a final vote.

The amendment would allow the state to execute only those convicted of killing a corrections officer.

The bill’s chief sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Lisa P. Gladden, Baltimore Democrat, has said she would not allow an amended bill to move out of the committee, effectively stopping the proposed repeal.

Mr. Mooney, who has remained tight-lipped, said he also will offer other amendments but declined to be more specific.

He has been lobbied heavily this session by opponents of the death penalty, who have focused on him as a swing vote.

Mr. Mooney has said he does not support a full repeal of the death penalty.

Opponents organized a group of law-enforcement officials Tuesday to speak against the death penalty. Mr. Mooney, who has said his main concern is protecting corrections officers and prison staff, sat through the first 10 minutes of the presentation.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote, advocates of the death penalty say, the court-ordered moratorium in Maryland still saves convicted killers.

“Even the defeat of the repeal does not change the fact that killers are protected in Maryland,” said Michael Paranzino, executive director of Throw Away the Key, a group that supports the death penalty.

The Maryland Court of Appeals imposed the moratorium until the state establishes a protocol on how it administers lethal injections.

Critics of capital punishment considered the 2007 General Assembly session one of their best opportunities to end the death penalty, especially after Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said he would support a repeal.

However, six of the 11 senators on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee support capital punishment. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr., Southern Maryland Democrat, likely will follow the Senate.

Supporters and opponents have said they would not vote for an amended version of the bill.

“I dont think any of the supporters will vote for this,” said Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions.

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