Illinois abolishes death penalty, Damm sentence commuted - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Illinois abolishes death penalty, Damm commuted to life in prison

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SPRINGFIELD, IL (KWWL) --  Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed legislation ending the death penalty in Illinois. He also commuted the death sentences of all 15 condemned inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Democrat signed the legislation Wednesday abandoning capital punishment, two months after Illinois lawmakers approved the bill and more than a decade after former Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium because of concern that innocent people could be put to death.

Illinois joins 15 other states, including Iowa, and the District of Columbia without the death penalty. The new law takes effect July 1.

This decision clears David Damm from execution. Damm was sentenced to death in Illinois after being found guilty of hiring Bruce Burt in 2006 to kill 13-year-old Donnisha Hill from Waterloo.  That was after Damm was accused of sexually abusing Hill. 

Quinn has spent the last two months consulting with prosecutors, victims' families, death penalty opponents and religious leaders. Illinois' attorney general was among those asking for a veto, saying safeguards are in place to prevent wrongful executions.

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