[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----N. MEX., MD., VA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Jan 31 00:40:50 CST 2009
Bill to abolish death penalty gets go-ahead
With shaking hands and a quivering voice, a Las Vegas, N.M., woman whose
son was executed by the state of Texas asked the New Mexico House of
Representatives on Thursday to end capital punishment in this state.
Though committee members' minds probably were made up before Muina Arthur
made her emotional plea, the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee
voted 5-2 to give a do-pass recommendation to House Bill 285, which would
abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without
possibility of parole.
"I am the survivor of a murder victim,'' Arthur told the panel. "When
Texas murdered him, it altered my life. ... My family, my friends, my
community all have been damaged. It was because of his execution.''
Karl Eugene Chamberlain, one of Arthur's nine children, was put to death
by lethal injection in Texas on June 11, 2008. His mother said Thursday
her son was guilty. According to online Texas Department of Criminal
Justice records, Chamberlain was convicted of raping and killing Felecia
Prechtl, a 30-year-old neighbor in Dallas, in 1991. He was just a few days
shy of his 38th birthday when he was put to death.
Chamberlain spent much of his childhood in Northern New Mexico, Arthur
She said it was extremely difficult coming to grips with the fact her son
had committed such a horrible crime.
Her son's crimes and his execution took a terrible toll on her own life,
Arthur said. Her marriage fell apart and, she said, "I was a patient in
the state hospital (in Las Vegas) several times during the continuing
Several others spoke against the death penalty. These included Andrea
Vigil, whose husband Carlos Vigil, a Santa Fe criminal lawyer, was
murdered on his way to the county courthouse in 1999, and Allen Sanchez,
director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, who quoted
The committee's vote -- a straight-party vote with Democrats voting yes
and Republicans voting no -- was no surprise. The committee has given the
bill the go-ahead whenever it has been introduced in at least the last 9
In recent years, the entire House has passed the bill only to have it die
in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
However, bill sponsor Rep. Gail Chasey, Albuquerque, said after the vote
that she's confident the bill will make it through Senate Judiciary this
Even if it passes the Legislature, a big question remains whether Gov.
Bill Richardson would sign it. He has said in the past he supports capital
punishment. Advocates hope that since he no longer is running for
president, Richardson will have a change of heart.
Arthur said she recently ran into the governor at a local Indian
restaurant and asked him to sign Chasey's bill. She said Richardson was
very courteous but only promised to ``look at the bill'' if the
Legislature passes it.
One area in which abolition advocates have lost allies is among House
Republicans. Four of six Republicans who voted for Chasey's death-penalty
repeal bill in 2007 are no longer in the Legislature. Of those 6, only
Larry Larranaga and Janice Arnold-Jones, both of Albuquerque, still
New Mexico has executed just 1 person since 1960, child killer and rapist
Terry Clark, who was given lethal injection in 2001.
There currently are only 2 convicted murders on death row in New Mexico:
Robert Fry of Farmington and Timothy Allen of Bloomfield. Their sentences
wouldn't be affected even if HB 285 is signed into law.
(source: Clovis News Journal)
Death Penalty Bill Could Go To Senate Floor----Move Would Circumvent
Legislation repealing the death penalty has lost strength in a Senate
committee over the past 2 years, and the State House is considering
circumventing a committee decision, 11 News reporter David Collins said.
But there's concern it would set a bad precedent by making public hearings
on tough issues obsolete.
In his State of the State address, Gov. Martin O'Malley made a personal
appeal to abolish the death penalty. The issue is one of the governor's
priorities this session.
Legislators are currently considering sending the governor's repeal bill
to the Senate floor regardless of what happens in committee. The
Washington Post first reported the unprecedented move.
For the past 2 years, legislation to abolish the death penalty has
languished in committee, sometimes because of the swing vote by Frederick
County Republican Sen. Alex Mooney, a death penalty supporter.
Legislators said circumventing a committee decision is allowed under
Senate rules, but no one has found specific language.
Senate President Mike Miller, a death penalty supporter, said if committee
members send the bill to the floor without making a recommendation on its
merits, he expects it to pass, but not without a fight.
Death penalty supporters may launch a filibuster to kill the measure,
Collins reported. The issue traditionally sparks long emotional debate.
Abolishing the death penalty is likely to pass the House, which is waiting
for the Senate to act first. The bill is currently before a Senate
committee. No hearing date has been set.
(source: WBAL TV News)
Capital punishment debated at Capitol
Whether they pull the trigger or not, involvement in a murder might land
some criminals the ultimate punishment in Virginia: death or life
The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would expand the state's current
"triggerman rule," which states that only the actual killer in a
1st-degree murder can be eligible for the death penalty.
Senate Bill 961, which passed both chambers only to be vetoed by Gov. Tim
Kaine last year, states an accomplice to a murder can be tried for capital
murder if he or she had the same intent to kill as the triggerman.
An "accessory" to the murder can also be tried and convicted if he or she
directed a willful, deliberate and premeditated killing.
Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, voted in the minority. He said if the bill
passes the House, he expects Kaine to once again veto the motion.
"Although I support the death penalty option in extraordinary cases, this
change represents an unprecedented expansion of our law, already one of
the broadest in the nation," Petersen wrote in a statement.
SB961 passed 24-16. It now awaits crossover for a vote in the House Feb.
10, where its fate will be determined.
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