Well if you have read or viewed some of the recent press reports, you might be a bit confused.
Let’s start with the broadcast coverage on the day the death penalty option was abolished in the state: CBS affiliate (Philadelphia KYW-TV) gave its viewers the impression that the newly signed law ending the death penalty also granted the six men on death row a reprieve.
Actually, it was the Governor who commuted their sentences a day earlier.
Now fast forward to the Burlington County Times article of Sunday, Jan. 6th: “Death penalty will not be sought in murder case” of Christopher Kornberger who is charged with the sexual assault and murder of an Evesham woman. The story relies on the claim that for all capital murder cases committed prior to the new law, prosecutors still have the option to seek the death penalty. In it, the BCT also states Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi has decided not to seek the death penalty due to concerns “about the exhaustive appeals process that would come to pass if this was presented as a capital case.”
In this case, both the prosecutor and the reporter got it wrong. The newly enacted law was effective in December.