Montana is the only state among the 30 others to have the death penalty that hasn’t handed down the death sentence in the 21st Century. 1996 was the last time someone was sentenced to death row and convicting someone might become even more rare.
The changes under this bill would only allow someone to be sentenced to the death penalty if DNA or biological evidence links the defendant to the crime. This evidence must be admitted during the trail and the judge must determine if the DNA evidence makes the defendant guilty.
Things such as blood, hair, saliva, skin tissue, fingernail scrapings, bone, bodily fluids or other identifiable biological material would be allowed in court to convict the defendant, but this would be the only way to get a guilty verdict that would result in the death penalty. Efforts were made in 2009 and 2011 to abolish the death penalty and both times those bills passed in the Senate but were defeated in the House Judiciary Committee.
Another bill being proposed Wednesday would increase the minimum wage in Montana to what lawmakers are calling “a living wage”. That bill will be heard in the House Business and Labor Committee at 8:30 a.m.