Sandra A. O’Connor, who in three decades as Baltimore County’s top prosecutor got both support and criticism for her pursuit of death sentences for killers, will step down when her term ends next year, the Baltimore Sun reports. O’Connor said she would like to be known for such innovations as the establishment of the state’s first victim-witness unit. She said her olicy to seek death in every eligible murder case is designed to remove bias from the process. The decision, she said, should be left to judges or juries. In 2002, researchers ranked Baltimore County second among large counties nationwide in the rate at which convicted murderers are sentenced to death.
Defense lawyer Fred Warren Bennett said O’Connor “went overboard on seeking the death penalty.” O’Connor, a Republican, has run unopposed in every election since 1986 in a county where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin. O’Connor, 62, came to the Baltimore County job in the aftermath of a sex and corruption scandal that enveloped the prosecutor’s office in 1973 and 1974.