A bill to repeal Delaware's death penalty passes state Senate by 11-10 vote; Peterson amends legislation to leave current condemned inmates on death row.

Delaware's Senate on March 26 passed legislation designed to do away with the state's death penalty, but that will be of little relief to those already on death row.

Senate Bill 19 originally contained a stipulation that would have commuted the death sentences for Delaware's 17 condemned murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, an amendment to the legislation, offered by its sponsor, Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton) stripped the bill of that provision.

That means if the bill passes the House of Representatives without further amendments and is signed into law, those convicted of first-degree murder in the future will get life in prison, but those already on death row will stay there.

Peterson's amendment passed with 19 of the chamber's 21 senators voting in favor. Sen. Harris McDowell III (R-Wilmington North) was recorded as "not voting" while Sen. Colin R.J. Bonini (R-Dover South) was absent.

The full Senate voted on the amended bill a little more than two hours later, approving it by an 11-10 vote. The legislation gathered bipartisan support, with eight Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor. They were countered by five Democrats and five Republicans voting against.

The bill now moves to the state House.