Opponents of Md. Death Penalty Repeal Fall Short

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Gov. Martin O'Malley signs a bill to officially repeal the death penalty in Maryland. (credit: John Domen/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

Gov. Martin O’Malley signs a bill to officially repeal the death penalty in Maryland. (credit: John Domen/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

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FREDERICK, Md. — An effort to reinstate the death penalty in Maryland has fallen short as organizers of a petition drive said they failed to collect enough signatures for a voters’ choice referendum.

“I am resigned to the fact that we no longer have the death penalty in Maryland,” Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said in an interview Friday after he and state Del. Neil Parrott announced an unsuccessful conclusion to their efforts.

Maryland lawmakers repealed the death penalty this legislative session, prompting supporters of capital punishment to launch a petition drive. Organizers said they collected over 15,000 signatures, far short of the roughly 18,500 they needed to turn in by Friday night.

Shellenberger said he thinks the effort failed, in part, because there’s no natural constituency to appeal to and because many residents feel the death penalty hasn’t worked effectively in the state. But he said he still believes in the value of the death penalty in select circumstances.

“I do think it’s an appropriate punishment for what I describe as the worst of the worst. There are some individuals who commit a crime that is so heinous that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment,” he said.

The county currently has only one death penalty case, but Shellenberger said he’s reassessing that.

“I think I have to have a sense of fairness of what the state of the law is right now,” he said.

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(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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