Bills would reinstate death penalty in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, MD. -- The Maryland House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Tuesday both for and against two bills that would reinstate the death penalty option in the state, which was repealed in 2013.

HB 1411 and HB 887 have some differences, but both would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty in cases of first-degree murder where the victims are law enforcement officers, first responders, correctional officers, or a witness.

HB 1411, introduced by Del. Susan K. McComas (D-34B, Harford County), also includes a provision for hate crime murders.

Both bills would also allow the death penalty in cases of mass murder, but differ in definition. McComas' bill defines it as "a coordinated assault by at least two persons, at one or more locations, that results in or is intended to result in at least two acts of murder."

HB 887, introduced by Del. Haven Shoemaker (D-5, Carroll County), defines a mass murder as "a crime in which three of more victims were slain, in one event, in one location."

The fiscal policy note for Shoemaker's bill said that similar bills have been introduced in past years but have either received unfavorable reports from the committees they were in or no action was taken on them.