The abolition of the death penalty in Maryland is one step closer to reality with a preliminary vote by the House of Delegates Wednesday night.
The House debated the bill for more than two hours with proponents defeating 18 amendments. Only one of the amendments was offered by a Democrat, Del. C.T. Wilson of Charles County.
The amendments attempted to change the bill from a full-blown repeal to a partial repeal, keeping capital punishment for contract killers, mass murderers, those who rape and murder or the killers of schoolchildren.
The bill now moves to a final vote scheduled for Friday. Opponents of the repeal can still offer amendments before a final vote is taken.
Both sides expect that any bill passed will ultimately end up as a referendum question on the 2014 ballot. Opponents are expected to be able to muster enough signatures to force the repeal to referendum next fall.
Goucher College Wednesday released a poll showing that 51 percent of Marylanders surveyed wanted to keep the death penalty on the books.