David Deane thinks the death penalty has no place in Virginia, and says voters can send that message in the Aug. 23 primary for commonwealth’s attorney.

Deane pressed the issue at a joint appearance with his opponent, Theo Stamos, at the June 1 meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

“The death penalty doesn’t have a place in a civilized society, and certainly doesn’t hold with the beliefs of Arlington and Falls Church Democrats,” Deane said in closing remarks at the joint appearance.

Deane, an attorney with the Arlington firm Albo & Oblon, is taking on Stamos, the chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney, in the race to succeed Richard Trodden. Trodden, a Democrat, announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election to the post he has held since 1993.

Trodden has endorsed Stamos, who is seen as the odds-on favorite in the Democratic primary. So far, no other candidates of any party have filed to seek the position.

Deane addressed the death penalty in his closing remarks; the subject did not come up in audience questions. Stamos, who has said she could support the death penalty in certain instances, did not address the matter in her remarks.

Since 1608, capital punishment has been carried out nearly 1,400 times in Virginia, the largest total of any jurisdiction in the U.S.

While at one time lesser offenses including horse rustling and burglary made one eligible for the death penalty in Virginia, the only crime to which it now applies is murder. The condemned have the choice between electrocution and lethal injection.

At the joint forum, both candidates served up familiar renditions of their experience: Stamos has spent most of her legal career in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, while Deane moved from a job in the Fairfax County prosecutor’s office into private practice.

Stamos said that a vote for her would represent a desire for continuity and thoughtful evolution in the office.

“Our job as prosecutors is simple: Do the right thing, and see that justice is done,” she said.

Deane countered that his experience was broader in scope, and would better serve residents.

“Seeing a lot of prosecutors’ offices throughout the state gives me a lot of good ideas for how I would run things,” he said. “I’ve got very good experience to bring a fresh perspective to this office.”

The office of commonwealth’s attorney serves both Arlington and Falls Church.

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