NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 26, 2009

NH House approves death penalty repeal

CONCORD, N.H. — Three months after Michael Addison was sentenced to die for killing a Manchester police officer — New Hampshire's first death sentence in 50 years — the New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted to repeal capital punishment.

The bill needs approval by the New Hampshire Senate and Gov. John Lynch. Lynch, a Democrat, said he would veto the bill if it reached his desk.

"There are some crimes so heinous that I believe capital punishment is warranted," Lynch said after the vote.

Michael Addison was sentenced to death in December for killing Manchester police officer Michael Briggs in 2006. No execution date has been scheduled because Addison is appealing the sentence.

Law enforcers, led by Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, who prosecuted Addison, have lined up against the repeal.

Yesterday, the House voted 193-174 to send the death penalty repeal bill to the Senate.

"It's unbelievable, this liberal agenda up here," said Seabrook state Rep. Mark Preston, a Democrat who professes not to be as liberal as many of his House colleagues. "I don't believe it passed. I never thought I'd see the day in New Hampshire when a repeal of the death penalty would pass. I spoke with (Seabrook state Reps.) Koko and Amy Perkins, and they said they didn't vote for the repeal either. "

Preston said that during yesterday's debate, state Rep. Robert Cushing Jr., a Hampton Democrat, spoke as he has many times in the past, hoping to persuade his colleagues to repeal the death penalty.

"He's very passionate about it and a very passionate speaker," said Preston, a sergeant with the Seabrook Police Department. "Robert's father was murdered, but he's still very much against the death penalty."

Cushing, whose father was shotgunned to death in 1988, led the fight to repeal the death penalty. After his father's murder, Cushing founded Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation.

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