Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Death Penalty, Death Nail

(Annapolis)- For the last 18 years Kirk Bloodsworth has been testifying against the death penalty. He has a personal reason to do so. While he was sitting on "death row" his conviction was overturned despite his insistence he was innocent.

"Naw, this never gets old," according to Bloodsworth. He is passionate and humbled at the same time. He makes the argument clear and succinct, but has been able to the Maryland Legislature to change its mind.

A number of prosecutors including Scott Shellenberger of Baltimore County count on the death penalty to be a deterrent. Statistics show in Baltimore County you're more like to face a death penalty case in other jurisdiction (maybe also in Harford County)rather than Baltimore City (the city has a new states attorney, let's see if he'll change the trend).

The anger Bloodsworth seems replaced as he introduces his "life partner." My colleague Lou Davis was the second reporter to interview the former marine after he was let go, so there is an easy in what he says.

"So where you been," says Lou. "I'm living in Boise, Idaho, coaching track (discus) at Boise State University, says Bloodsworth. I chime in, "You mean the national ranked football team with blue field." "Yep, we're season ticket holders...nobody knows us there."

As we're talking a former professor who made the case for Bloodsworth shows up and joins the banter. "Don't you miss crabbing?" "Nah, I can always comeback and get a crab cake."

This is a side of the former death row inmate I think few have seen. In pass years he's been angry, frustrated, and challenged. "The Illinois thing gives me hope," he says with a slight twinkle in his eye.

All around us others are giving testimony-I mean interviews as to why the ban needs to be a repeal.

Jokingly, I ask him, "You've had a difficult time in convincing the Judiciary Chairman Vallario." "Yea, but he's gonna hear it again, 'it's time to remove the death penalty." We laugh but this is serious business. I forgot to add this, Governor Martin O'Malley was noticeably absent on this bill.

Gaming and Horses

Packed hearing on this issue in the House Ways and Means Committee. I run into Delegate Frank Turner who suggests his walk around the Capitol Building is part of his attempt to take off a few pounds as required by his doctor. Maybe, but its more likily he wasn't going to see the light of day in the hearing room.

Talked with J. Michael Hopkins,Executive Director of the Maryland Horse Racing Commission. He's a little coy about his testimony on the tracks, purses and the various competing interest. When I ask Mr. Hopkins about horse racing next year he says as a matter of fact, "we will have racing...that's if the various parties can solve their issues in court."

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