Miller plans death penalty law changes

Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. plans to introduce legislation in 2010 that would clarify changes to the state's death penalty statute made during this year's General Assembly session.

An effort to repeal capital punishment ended with a bill that restricts the death penalty to cases with certain kinds of evidence.

One type, "biological evidence," left lawmakers unsure whether the term included fingerprints.

Miller's bill would spell out that fingerprint evidence would be sufficient.

The changes also called for videotaped evidence or confessions. Miller said in October that his bill would allow photographic evidence, as well.

Miller (D-Calvert, Prince George's) said he thought the bill would pass the Senate, but he was unsure whether it would pass the House of Delegates.

Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D-Baltimore), vice chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee and a leading advocate behind the attempted death penalty repeal, said she didn't think any changes are necessary yet. A court ruling could decide that fingerprints are biological, she said.