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Surrounded By Police, Victims, NH Gov. Sununu Vetoes Repeal Of Death Penalty Despite Veto-proof Majority

May 5, 2019

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has vetoed a bill to repeal capital punishment despite bi-partisan support for the legislation that appears to be backed by a veto-proof majority in the legislature.

The governor signed his veto during a ceremony held in the Michael Briggs Community Center, a facility named for a policeman killed in the line of duty by Michael Addison, the only inmate sitting on the state’s death row. Addison shot Briggs to death in

Members of Officer Briggs family, including his widow and his mother, attended the veto signing. They were flanked by dozens of police officers representing city, county and state departments.

Some in attendance, the Union Leader reports, had also testified before legislative committees in opposition to the repeal of the state’s death penalty.

The state has not executed a convicted killer since 1939.

The Union Leader reports Gov. Sununu defended his veto.

“The reason is quite obvious,” he said in the Union Leader report, “when you talk to law enforcement and ask if this serves as a deterrent, they say ‘absolutely.’ People in this state understand that this is a tool and when you use it justly and with prudence, as New Hampshire does, it’s appropriate.”

According to the Union Leader, the state Senate voted 17-6 and the House voted 279-88 in favor of the death penalty repeal; both tallies are considered veto-proof.

In the Senate, only 16 votes are needed to override Gov. Sununu’s veto. Of the Democratic Party-controlled Senate’s 24 members, five Republican senators supported the bill prior to the governor’s veto. The Union Leader reports the Republican governor believes he still has work to do to change some minds.

“When you get to sustaining or overturning a veto, a lot of dynamics come into play,” the governor told the Union Leader. “So we’ll go back and talk to folks. We’ll keep fighting for it. The vote was pretty overwhelming, to be honest. Politics didn’t come into play. I think it was folks not really understanding what this means to law enforcement and their families.”

Addison has been on death row since his 2008 conviction. Officer Briggs, a former Marine and decorated police officer, left behind his wife and two children.

 

 

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