Maryland repeals death penalty

(AP/ABC7) Maryland has ended the death penalty as a punishment in the state, making it the 18th state to do so.

A shoulder-to-shoulder crowd watched as Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat,{ }signed{ }the measure repealing capital punishment in Maryland Thursday.

The ceremony was attended by NAACP President Ben Jealous and Kirk Bloodsworth, a one-time Maryland death row inmate who was the first person in the United States freed by DNA evidence.

“We’ve avoided the possibility of executing an innocent person and we have the poster child for that, Kirk Bloodsworth, convicted sentenced to death, totally innocent,” says Sen. Brian Frosh of Montgomery County.{ }

“I could be a corpse. The state had its way in those days,” says Bloodsworth.{ }

Bloodsworth spent two years on death row and nine years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.{ }

"This is the first state below the Mason Dixon line to abolish the death penalty,” says Jealous.

The NAACPP believes O'Malley's pen stroke should send a resounding message to other governors, particularly in the south.{ }

“No longer [are] politicians afraid of their own convictions to lead, and to lead with possibilities of higher office,” says Jealous.

The bill will not apply to the five men the state has on death row, but the governor can commute their sentences to life without parole. O'Malley has said he will consider them on a case-by-case basis.

The state's last execution took place in 2005, before O'Malley's tenure.

Supporters of the death penalty could still try to petition the bill to the ballot.