Miller to propose death penalty changes
Bill would clarify whether fingerprints constitute biological evidence'
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said last week that he plans to introduce legislation in 2010 that would clarify last session's changes to the state's death penalty statute.
An effort to repeal capital punishment ended with a bill that restricts the death penalty to cases with certain kinds of evidence.
One kind was "biological evidence," and when the bill passed, lawmakers were 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 Friday that his bill would allow photographic evidence, as well.
Miller (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach 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, vice chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee and an advocate of a repeal of the death penalty, said she didn't think any changes should be passed yet.
A court ruling could decide that fingerprints are biological, she said.
"We don't want to make it easier to kill people," said Gladden (D-Dist. 41) of Baltimore.
Instead, any changes should wait until the 2011 session, the first after the 2010 elections, she said.