House debates death penalty, as repeal legislation advances in General Assembly

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 7:19 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - One day after the State Senate voted to abolish the death penalty in Virginia, the debate involving capital punishment continued in the House of Delegates.

Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) held up the photos of several Virginians who were murdered, including Sarah Jamison from Lynchburg.

“I’m holding these photos up, so that people know the faces of the victims,” said Miyares. “That seems to be absent from these discussions. And understand for this body... the ultimate crime, with all of the constitutional protections we can afford, deserves the ultimate punishment. And I would beg this body, please do not forget the victims.”

But lawmakers who want to see the death penalty abolished noted that even among the families of murder victims, support for capital punishment is not universal.

Delegate Kathleen Murphy (D-Fairfax Co.) spoke from experience.

“I will vote yes to end the death penalty, not because I think those men who killed my brother should ever be able to see the light of day,” Murphy said. “I don’t believe that by committing murder ourselves, that we are accomplishing the goal that we should be.”

Friday is the deadline for each chamber to complete work on its own legislation.

Votes on the death penalty repeal, the legalization of marijuana and other consequential bills are expected then.

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