As his mother looked on, Wesley Eugene Baker's supporters rallied yesterday to protest his impending execution, waving signs and listening to a half-dozen speakers call for an end to a death penalty that they consider racist and unfair.
"The death penalty's immoral, it's barbaric and it doesn't even hold up to scrutiny in terms of doing what it is supposed to do as a deterrent," Michael Stark, a spokesman for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, told about 20 supporters outside the Supermax prison on East Madison Street in Baltimore, where Baker is being held.
Baker was convicted and sentenced to die in 1992 for the fatal shooting of Jane Tyson in front of her grandchildren during a robbery outside Westview Mall in Catonsville.
Delores Williams, Baker's mother, declined to speak yesterday, saying her son has asked her not to discuss the case publicly.
She watched as speakers decried Baker's death sentence and the legal system that convicted him.
"The courts are not about justice; they're about vengeance," said Max Obuszewski, a member of the Quaker-based American Friends Service Committee.
Dr. Terry Fitzgerald, a spokesman for Physicians for Social Responsibility, said, "The death penalty not only damages society but creates a whole new set of victims."
Meredith Curtis, a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union, called for Gov. Parris N. Glendening to impose a moratorium on executions until a University of Maryland study on the death penalty is completed in September.
"Capital punishment is an irrevocable sanction. Therefore, it must be held to the strictest standards of equity and due process," Curtis said in a statement distributed to the group.
Baker's lawyers plan a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in coming weeks. They also plan to argue next week to a Circuit Court judge that Baker is entitled to a new trial on grounds that Maryland's death penalty is racist.
Legal experts say the Court of Appeals' rejection of Baker's appeal Friday might have cleared the way for his execution, scheduled for the week of May 13. No exact date has been announced by state prison officials.