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The ultimate sanction: NH likely to keep death penalty

March 17. 2018 11:57PM

The case of Michael Addison, sentenced to death in the 2006 killing of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs, would not be affected by the new legislation aimed at outlawing New Hampshire's death penalty. (BOB LAPREE/UNION LEADER FILE PHOTO)

Unless Gov. Chris Sununu or two state senators change their minds, New Hampshire is likely to keep the death penalty.

That means Michael Addison will remain on death row for the 2006 murder of Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs.

Supporters of death penalty repeal argue that it would be prospective, and not apply to the person convicted of capital murder since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

No state that has repealed the death penalty has ever then applied it to someone convicted prior to repeal. Should New Hampshire repeal its death penalty statute, it is virtually certain Addison would never be executed.

Capital punishment in New Hampshire is narrowly applied. Merely murdering another human being is not sufficient. It requires a crime so heinous that it threatens the fabric of civil society.

In Addison's case, that was the murder of a police officer while attempting to flee arrest. There is no question of Addison's guilt, no serious legal claim that his case was mishandled. This case should show lawmakers why the death penalty is sometimes necessary and appropriate.

The state Senate voted 14-10 last week to repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire. That is enough to send the bill to the House, which has supported repeal in past sessions.

Fortunately, 14 votes would not be enough to overcome a promised veto from Gov. Chris Sununu.

Sununu understands that respect for life and the safety of New Hampshire citizens requires us to retain the ultimate punishment.

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