Life without Parole Bill Yanked from Georgia House


SB 13, sponsored by Georgia State Sen. Preston Smith (R-Rome), would allow district attorneys to seek life without parole for murder without having to ask for the death penalty first to obtain such a ruling. 

But the bill is now in danger of dying on the vine for the third year in a row and in the same manner. 

On Tuesday, Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), chairman of the House Rules Committee, pulled SB 13 from the House for because he later said the bill needed “a technical correction,” according to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

More from the AJC:

 [Smith]…said he was told that House leaders pulled the bill to try and amend it to allow death sentences when jurors vote 9 to 3 in favor of death but are unable to reach a verdict.

That is the same split in which jurors deadlocked in the death-penalty trial against courthouse killer Brian Nichols, who was subsequently sentenced to life without parole.

“It sounds like both bills are dead,” Smith said. “I’m very disappointed.”

Smith said he believes in the death penalty but said he has yet to see a non-unanimous jury proposal that will withstand a constitutional challenge.

If S.B. 13 fails, it would be the third year in a row it has happened. Last year, House leaders refused to allow Smith’s bill pass without a non-unanimous jury bill.

This year’s non-unanimous juries legislation is HB 32, sponsored by Rep. Timothy Bearden (R-Villa Rica). 

Groups like Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP) circulated e-mails Tuesday urging citizens to contact their representatives and urge them to vote against non-unanimous juries.

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