O’Malley Empties Maryland Death Row

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Jody Lee Miles
Jody Lee Miles

For his last act of 2014, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced he was taking four inmates off death row.

With the move, the four inmates saw their sentences commuted to life without parole. The legislature voted to abolish the death penalty in 2012, but the fate of the four inmates who were sentenced to death before the law was enacted remained up in the air.

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler paved the way for O’Malley’s decision in November when he issued a legal opinion stating that the death sentences should be reversed.

“In my judgment, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland — present or future,” O’Malley said. “Gubernatorial inaction — at this point in the legal process — would, in my judgment, needlessly and callously subject survivors, and the people of Maryland, to the ordeal of an endless appeals process, with unpredictable twists and turns, and without any hope of finality or closure.

O’Malley said he’s met with many family members of the people who were killed by the prisoners, and called them “good and decent people who have generously granted me the courtesy of discussing the cases of their individual family members.”

Here are the four death row inmates who will see their sentences commuted:

  • Health William Burch, convicted of killing an elderly couple with scissors in their home in 1995;
  • Vernon Lee Evans, Jr., convicted for his role in a murder-for-hire double murder of a witness and her sister-in-law at a Baltimore County hotel in 1983
  • Anthony Grandison, convicted for his role in the same double murder for hire;
  • Jody Lee Miles, convicted in the murder of a musical theater director on the Eastern Shore in 1997.


Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Technical.ly Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.

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