Death penalty repeal debate underway

By Amy Cherry 10:28am, March 26, 2013 - Updated 5:26pm, March 26, 2013
Debate is underway in the state Senate on a bill that would repeal the death penalty.

The state Senate has removed retroactivity in an amendment that passed with 19 "yes," one absent, and one not voting. That means Delaware's 17 inmates on death row would still be put to death even if capital punishment is abolished.

At times, debate sounded like a repeat of the James Cooke murder retrial. Cooke was twice convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of University of Delaware Sophomore Lindsey Bonistall.

The packed room heard testimony from former juror from Cooke's first trial Stew Dotts, a Newark teacher, who says he feels like a killer, for convicting Cooke and recommending the death penalty.

Next, Senate Minority Leader Greg Lavelle read a heartfelt letter from the Bonistall family, who says by sentencing Cooke to life in prison, you're sentencing them to a lifetime of pain and suffering.

Prosecutor Steve Wood has gone on record, saying Attorney General Beau Biden does not support a repeal of the death penalty.

Kirk Bloodsworth, the first man to be exonerated by DNA evidence, also testified in favor of a death penalty repeal along with relatives of murder victims.

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