Last week Rep. O’Neill listened to hours of public testimony as the Judiciary Committee considered Senate Bill (SB) 280 – An Act Revising the Penalty for Capital Felonies – which aims to repeal the State’s death penalty. The controversial measure drew both supporters and opponents to the Capitol for the opportunity to speak on the issue.
Rep. O’Neill favors maintaining the death penalty for several reasons. First he believes that there are some crimes for which the only appropriate punishment is capital punishment, such as the murders of the Petit family and the case of Michael Ross. He also argued that the claim that the death penalty can be repealed prospectively is disingenuous and that it has never occurred before in this country. Both the Chief State Attorney and the Chief Public Defender admitted openly to the Committee that a prospective death penalty would prompt them to immediately file challenges to the Komisarjevsky and Hayes convictions for the murders of the Petit family, and that there would be a good chance of success in that effort.
The bill will soon be voted on by the Committee to determine whether or not it will progress in the legislative process.