Around New England

NH Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto; Kills The Death Penalty

May 31, 2019

The death penalty is dead in NH after legislators voted to override Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of legislation abolishing capital punishment. The state senate put the final nail in the death penalty’s coffin by a two-thirds majority vote Thursday, 16-8.

WMUR reports that several Republicans voted in favor of the override in concert with their Democratic peers. Democrats have controlled both state chambers since 2018.

Until Thursday’s vote, only one man sat on death row in NH — Michael Addison — who shot and killed police officer Michael Briggs in 2006. According to a statement from former US Senator Kelly Ayotte (R), who also was the NH state attorney general who prosecuted Addison, Addison’s death sentence is likely to be commuted to life without the possibility of parole.

“He will get a pass because he was already facing a life sentence for the armed robberies and drive-by shooting he committed leading up to the murder, so he gets no added punishment for killing Officer Briggs,” Ayotte told WMUR. Ayotte also said on Twitter she believed Addision is the “happiest” the death penalty repeal.

Capt. Patrick Cheetham of the NH Police Association believes the death penalty just merely because it may give even just one potential killer a reason to pause.

“If it makes a criminal think twice — just once — and saves a police officer’s life, we believe the death penalty should stay on the books,” he said according to WMUR.

Barbara Keshen, of the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty told WMUR that the death penalty repeal is “a tremendous step forward for our state and for our country. I feel like we’ve been trying to birth an elephant for 13 years, and it’s birthed, and it feels wonderful.”

According to WMUR, Republican Sen. Bob Giuda said he supported the repeal due to his pro-life stance.

“I believe that all life is sacred from the moment of conception until the point of natural death,” he said.

In the wake of the senate’s veto override, Gov. Sununu expressed his disappointment.

“I have consistently stood with law enforcement, families of crime victims, and advocates for justice in opposing a repeal of the death penalty because it is the right thing to do. I am incredibly disappointed that the Senate chose to override my veto,” he said.

WMUR also reports that the NH Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester worked for, and applauded, the repeal.

NH has not executed a criminal since 1939.

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