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Virginia death penalty extension bills vetoed by governor

[JURIST] Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine [official website] announced Monday that he has vetoed five bills [press release] promoting the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. House Bill 2750 and House Bill 2347 [bill summaries] sought to make the murder of a judge and the murder of a witness in a criminal case, respectively, into capital crimes; Senate Bill 1116 [bill summary] proposed a similar measure. House Bill 2348 and its counterpart Senate Bill 1288 [bill summaries] would have made accessories to first degree murder eligible for the death penalty. Kaine acknowledged the seriousness of the targeted offenses but said he did not believe that it was necessary to expand the death penalty "to protect human life or provide for public safety needs."

Kaine, a Democrat and a Roman Catholic, ran his 2005 campaign as an anti-death penalty candidate, but said he would not disrupt the current state laws. Monday's vetoes are expected to be overturned by the predominately Republican Virginia General Assembly [official website] during a vote on April 4. Virginia currently has the second-highest number of executions in the US after Texas. AP has more.

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