Outgoing MD Governor Commutes All Death Row Inmates to Life in Prison

The outgoing Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley (D)—who also happens to be a possible 2016 presidential candidate—has commuted the sentences of the state’s remaining death row inmates.

Last year, Maryland’s death penalty was repealed, which O’Malley cited in a statement Wednesday as the basis for his decision:

“Recent appeals and the latest opinion on this matter by Maryland’s Attorney General have called into question the legality of carrying out earlier death sentences — sentences imposed prior to abolition,” O’Malley said. “In fact, the Attorney General has opined that the carrying out of prior sentences is now illegal in the absence of an existing statute.  The question at hand is whether any public good is served by allowing these essentially un-executable sentences to stand.”

The four inmates affected are Vernon Evans, Anthony Grandison, Heath Burch, and Jody Lee Miles:

Evans and Grandison were reportedly sentenced to death in 1984 for a “contract killing” of two people who were set to testify against Grandison in a federal drug trial. Burch was convicted of killing his two neighbors with a pair of scissors. Miles was convicted for a murder and robbery.

O’Malley lost his re-election to Larry Hogan, a Republican, who reportedly supports the death penalty, inspiring many advocates to urge the outgoing governor to commute the sentences while he was still in office. The four inmates now have a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

“In my judgment, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland—present or future,” O’Malley said in his statement.


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