2/9/2012 - Death Penalty bill dies in Senate Committee

A bill to expand the death penalty in Virginia has died on a tie vote in a Senate committee.

Sen. Mark Obenshain's bill would have redefined the so-called triggerman rule, which in most cases restricts the death penalty to the person who does the actual killing. The legislation would have allowed the death penalty for accomplices who share the intent to kill.

Obenshain, a Republican from Harrisonburg, said the bill targets "the worst of the worst." Opponents argued that there's too much danger of executing an innocent person because there's no DNA or fingerprinting that can prove intent.

Similar legislation has either failed or been vetoed each of the last four years.

The Courts of Justice Committee's vote Wednesday was 7-7, with one abstention.

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