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Thursday, May 09, 2002

Gov. Parris Glendening Declares Death Penalty Moratorium

Glendening Declares Death Penalty Moratorium
By Tom Stuckey
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, May 9, 2002; 12:45 PM

ANNAPOLIS - - Gov. Parris Glendening imposed a moratorium Thursday on executions in Maryland until the state completes a study of whether there is racial bias in the use of the death penalty.

Glendening issued a stay on the execution of Wesley Eugene Baker, who was scheduled to die by injection sometime next week, and said he would stay any other executions that come before him. Only one other state that has capital punishment, Illinois, has imposed a similar moratorium.

Baker is one of 13 men - nine of them black - awaiting execution in Maryland. Glendening, who supports the death penalty for especially heinous crimes, had been under pressure to halt executions until he receives a study that is due to be completed in September by a researcher at the University of Maryland.

Glendening said he would not lift the moratorium until the study is completed and reviewed by the state legislature, which he estimated would be in about a year. Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who also supports the death penalty in limited cases, asked Glendening last week to impose a moratorium until he receives the study the governor requested two years ago.

Townsend said at the time that it would be "tough to have a report come out and say this wasn't fair knowing that while the report was going on, that people were executed." She recently announced she is running to succeed Glendening, who cannot seek a third term. Illinois Gov. George Ryan declared the nation's first moratorium in 2000. Last month, a commission appointed by Ryan recommended 85 reforms to reduce the possibility of wrongful convictions. Some of the reforms included cutting the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty and videotaping police interrogations.

Baker was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the 1991 murder of Jane Tyson, who was shot in the parking lot of a Baltimore County shopping center, where she had taken her 4-year-old granddaughter and 6-year-old grandson shopping for tennis shoes. Baker does not deny being present when Tyson was killed, but his attorneys say there is not enough evidence to show he fired the gun.
(c) 2002 The Associated Press

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