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News| Death Penalty | Maryland Inmate Executed for 1991 Murder

News| Death Penalty | Maryland Inmate Executed for 1991 Murder

Published February 11, 2008

Does race play a role in the way the death penalty is administered? 

Posted Dec. 6, 2005 – In 1991, he shot a woman to death in front of her grandchildren at a Baltimore County shopping center.  And Monday, convicted killer Wesley E. Baker paid the ultimate price for his crime – he was executed.

The 47-year-old was pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m. Monday, The Associated Press reported.

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Baker had filed several appeals with both the U.S. Supreme Court and Maryland's Court of Appeals, even on the day of his execution but was rejected each time, a spokeswoman for the Court of Appeals told AP.

Just hours before Baker was to be put to death, both courts refused to step in.  Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) followed suit, saying, "I decline to intervene. My sympathies tonight lie with the families of all those involved in this heinous and brutal crime."

Death penalty opponents argued that the state needed to fully review a study of capital punishment in Maryland which concluded that race and geography plays a role in how death sentences are imposed. The study revealed that prosecutors were far more likely to seek the death penalty for Black suspects charged with killing White victims. Six of the seven men on Maryland's death row are Black, and all but one of their victims were White.

Death penalty opponents say that Baker fit many of the questionable imbalances revealed by the study because Baker is Black and he was convicted of killing a White woman, AP reported.

But Ehrlich said in a statement that he's reviewed death penalty cases very seriously and that he gave the Baker case an "exhaustive" review.
 
Baker was convicted in Oct. 2002 for shooting 49-year-old Jane Tyson, 49, in the head as she was getting into her car at a shopping mall in June 1991, with her two young grandchildren witnessing. Baker took Tyson's purse, only making out with just $10, police told AP.

Police said that they found the gun in Baker’s get-away vehicle and the victim’s blood on his pants and shoes.

Do you think race plays a role in the way the death penalty is administered?  Click on “Discuss Now” to post your comments.

Written by BET-Staff

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