Legislators from both parties say they will try to re-institute the death penalty in Delaware this year with a measure soon to be introduced, reported The News Journal.
“Delaware has a long history of applying capital punishment cautiously, judiciously, and infrequently,” said State Sen. Dave Lawson. “These proposed changes would raise the imposition of such a sentence to a new level, removing what the court found objectionable and strengthening protections afforded defendants.”
The state Supreme Court last year ruled the capital punishment law unconstitutional because it allowed a judge, not a jury, to determine that "aggravating circumstances" made a crime heinous enough to deserve a death sentence. There are 22 of those aggravating factors, such as crime committed against a police officer, crimes in which hostages are taken or if the crimes that are "outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture or depravity of mind."
The Court's 4-1 decision also faulted the law for allowing juries to find those aggravating circumstances without a unanimous vote, using a standard of proof that was too low.
A bipartisan group of legislators unveiled the "Extreme Crimes Prevention Act," which would change the law to address those concerns, effectively reinstating the punishment. It would require that juries unanimously decide that the aggravating circumstances merited a death sentence, and requires proof of those circumstances "beyond a reasonable doubt."
It also would require the judge and jury to weigh "mitigating factors," which would suggest the death penalty was unjust, against the "aggravating factors."
To read more CLICK HERE