Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is set to commute the death sentences of the final four prisoners on death row.
Maryland abolished the death penalty in 2013, but that left an open question as to what would happen to prisoners sentenced to the death penalty before the law was passed.
With weeks to go before leaving the gubernatorial mansion, O'Malley settled the matter, deciding to commute the death sentences of four remaining prisoners, who will now serve life in prison.
In a statement, O'Malley said he had discussed matter with the families of the victims of "these brutal murders," and he judged that allowing these cases to make their way through the courts would cause more harm.
"In the final analysis, there is one truth that stands between and before all of us. That truth is this — few of us would ever wish for our children or grandchildren to kill another human being or to take part in the killing of another human being. The legislature has expressed this truth by abolishing the death penalty in Maryland.
"For these reasons, I intend to commute Maryland's four remaining death sentences to life without the possibility of parole.
"It is my hope that these commutations might bring about a greater degree of closure for all of the survivors and their families."