Del. death penalty repeal stalls in committee

By Randall Chase, Associated Press 2:29pm, April 24, 2013 - Updated 6:06pm, April 24, 2013
A bill to repeal Delaware's death penalty has stalled in a House committee after barely clearing the Senate.

Members of the Judiciary Committee took no action on the measure Wednesday after it appeared it would fail to win passage.

Political observer and business lobbyist Rich Heffron weighs in.

"It's very controversial and the vote will be very close, if they get it to the floor. From what I've been told it's 18 for, 18 against and five undecided, so it's a matter of a couple votes," says Heffron.

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Heffron says the five undecided lawmakers are from all three counties.

The death penalty repeal barely cleared the Senate last month on an 11-10 vote after chief sponsor Sen. Karen Peterson removed a controversial provision that would have spared the lives of 17 inmates awaiting execution in Delaware.

Supporters of the bill, including many clerics, argue that the death penalty is morally wrong, racially discriminatory, ineffective as a deterrent to violent crime and far more costly than sentencing killers to life in prison without parole.

Attorney General Beau Biden and several other law enforcement officials have argued that Delaware's death penalty is fairly applied.

Heffron believes gay marriage is more likely to pass this session than the death penalty repeal.

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