The news: A Harford County jury grappled for the first time with the state's new restrictions on the death penalty, which only allow it to be used in cases with DNA or other forensic evidence, a videotape of the crime or a videotaped confession. In the end, they decided to give Walter L. Brewer life with the possibility of parole in the contract killing of a Towson gas station owner.
Our take: Although the case was viewed as a test of the new law, the jury's decision turned on more basic standards. They judged that the mitigating factors outweighed the aggravating ones.
Readers respond: Why not life WITHOUT parole. There are NO mitigating circumstances. Do the jury and judge think this man can be rehabilitated in prison and made an honest, law abiding citizen? What is there to feel sorry about this violent criminal? With plenty of time to calculate his decision and change his mind, he thought nothing wrong with killing a stranger in cold blood for a little bit of money. That he has never committed a crime before (that he got caught for)? That he has five children? Hell, do his children a favor and keep him away from them. The judges in this state of Maryland are terrible. What a joke.