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Governor O'Malley Commutes Sentences Of Last Death Row Inmates

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- It appears Maryland's death row will be empty in 2015.

The governor has announce plans to commute the sentences of four convicted killers who were slated for execution.

It's a move that has upset some of the victim's families.

Meghan McCorkell has reaction to the controversial decision.

Maryland repealed death penalty in 2013, but that did not apply to the men still on death row.

Now the governor is taking action.

Four convicted killers on death row will have their sentences reduced to life without parole.

In a statement, outgoing democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley says, "the question at hand is whether any public good is served by allowing these essentially un-executable sentences to stand. In my judgement, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good or the people of Maryland -- present or future."

In 2006, a court of appeals struck down Maryland's lethal injection procedures.

For nearly 20 years, Heath Burch has sat on death row for killing Mary Francis Moore's father and stepmother.

Moore told the governor she wanted Burch to stay there.

"I said something about 'I would like to see you not sign anything and let this go back to the courts'," she said.

But that's what the family of Edward Atkinson is trying to avoid.

Atkinson was shot to death in 1997 by Jody Lee Miles.

Miles has now appealed his sentence.

Atkinson's mother asked the governor to take action to stop more court battles.

"No other family should have to go through what we have been through," Dottie Atkinson said.

Drug kingpin Anthony Grandison ordered Vernon Evans to kill two federal witnesses inside a Pikesville hotel in 1983.

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger says their death sentences were fair.

"I see no reason in the last 21 days in office to show these men any mercy whatsoever because they showed no mercy to the victims of their crimes," Shellenberger said.

The governor will post a notice of his intention to commute the sentences Friday.

O'Malley says he hopes the commutations bring a sense of closure to the victims' families.

Attorneys for Jody Lee Miles have asked the governor to refrain from changing his sentence as they fight in the court of appeals for the death sentence to be vacated.

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