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The Baltimore Sun

Death penalty repeal due for panel's vote

Sen. Brian E. Frosh, chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said yesterday that he is putting a proposed death penalty repeal measure on the panel's vote schedule for today or tomorrow. However, Frosh said, a vote on the bill could come as late as next week.

"I'm for the bill," he said. "I'm ready to vote."

The 11-member Senate committee has been waiting for word from Sen. Alex X. Mooney, a Frederick Republican whose vote could swing the outcome. Mooney, a conservative Roman Catholic, has struggled to decide whether he will support the measure, which replaces the death penalty with life without parole.

Mooney said yesterday that he just finished reading Kirk Bloodsworth's book; Bloodsworth, a former death row inmate in Maryland, was wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl. He testified last month before the committee.

"It's a really compelling story," Mooney said of the book, Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA. "It makes me think if there's 1,000 people on death row and one of them, just one of them, is innocent, is it worth having the death penalty for the other 999?"

The House Judiciary Committee is considering the same proposal. But lawmakers say the House panel is holding off on a vote until the Senate determines its course.

Jennifer Skalka

Lyons confirmation hearing set

Senators have confirmed all of Gov. Martin O'Malley's appointments to key state posts except for Higher Education Secretary-nominee James E. Lyons Sr., who has moved from California to Maryland.

A Senate confirmation hearing for Lyons, the former president of California State University, Dominguez Hills, is scheduled Monday.

O'Malley has yet to decide whether to retain interim Secretary of State Dennis C. Schnepfe; State Police commander Col. Thomas E. "Tim" Hutchins; National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Bruce F. Tuxill; interim Veterans Affairs Secretary George W. Owings III; and Sharon R. Pinder, the special secretary for minority affairs, said Sasha Leonhardt, a spokesman for the governor.

Cabinet secretaries who have won Senate confirmation include:

Gloria G. Lawlah, Aging

Roger L. Richardson, Agriculture

T. Eloise Foster, Budget & Management

David W. Edgerley, Business & Economic Development

Catherine A. Raggio, Disabilities

Shari T. Wilson, Environment

Alvin C. Collins, General Services

John M. Colmers, Health & Mental Hygiene

Raymond A. Skinner, Housing & Community Development

Brenda Donald, Human Resources

Donald W. DeVore, Juvenile Services

Thomas E. Perez, Labor, Licensing & Regulation

John R. Griffin, Natural Resources

Richard E. Hall, Planning

Gary D. Maynard, Public Safety & Correctional Services

John D. Porcari, Transportation.

Melissa Harris

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