Watch CBS News

Former Maryland Death Row Inmate Spurns Commutation

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) -- A Maryland inmate whose death sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole is hoping to argue for less time behind bars.

Jody Lee Miles, 45, was one of four inmates whose death sentences were commuted by former Gov. Martin O'Malley on his last full day in office Jan. 20.

In a motion opposing the change filed in Queen Anne's County Circuit Court the same day of the commutation, Miles' attorneys wrote that their client wouldn't accept life in prison.

"He has not applied for a change in his sentence by the governor to life without parole and will not accept any such change in his death sentence by the governor," the attorneys wrote. "Mr. Miles contends that any change at the present time in his death sentence should come from the judicial process, not gubernatorial fiat."

Miles' attorneys are now asking the Court of Special Appeals to find Miles' life sentence illegal so they can argue for less prison time at a new sentencing. The attorneys made that request in a Jan. 29 filing, according to The Daily Times ( ).

David Nitkin, a spokesman for the Maryland attorney general's office, said in a statement that the office was "fully prepared to defend the authority of a governor to commute death sentences."

Attorney General Brian Frosh is "a firm believer that this was an appropriate action," Nitkin said.

Miles, formerly of Greensboro, was convicted in the 1997 robbery and murder of Edward Atkinson in Wicomico County. He was sentenced to death before Maryland banned capital punishment in 2013.

Miles' attorneys made their displeasure with O'Malley's move clear immediately after he made it, issuing a statement that their client deserved the chance at parole, arguing that he had been sexually abused as a teenager, had post-traumatic stress disorder, is remorseful for the crime, and was a well-behaved inmate.

The attorneys also argued that it would be unfair to prevent Miles from being eligible for parole because many other Maryland inmates convicted of murder got parole-eligible sentences.

O'Malley, who is considering running for president in 2016, left office last month after two terms, the limit in Maryland. The Catholic Democrat is a longtime opponent of capital punishment.

Newly sworn-in Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has said he wasn't going to second-guess O'Malley's decision to commute the death sentences.

Only five Maryland inmates were executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978. The last execution was in 2005 under Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.