"N.H. officials discuss plan for first execution in 70-plus years," is Lynne Tuohy's AP report, via SeaCoast Online.
New Hampshire — which last executed an inmate more than 70 years ago, by hanging — would likely carry out an execution in a prison gymnasium rather than construct a costly death chamber for its lone death row prisoner, Corrections Commissioner William Wrenn said Wednesday.
Addressing a symposium on the death penalty at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, Wrenn said he and his staff are "dusting off" execution protocols from the 1930s but the $1.8 million needed to build a lethal injection chamber isn't in the cards in a state where inmates are so rarely condemned to death.
The symposium offered a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the case of Michael Addison, sentenced to death in 2008 for gunning down Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs following a violent crime spree. If the state's highest court upholds his conviction and death sentence, Addison could be the first convict executed in New Hampshire since 1939.
Wrenn said Addison doesn't really live on "death row" because the state no longer has one. He is housed in the state prison's maximum security unit, living alongside other convicts.
Panelists made it clear Addison's case threw a curve at a state criminal justice system that had no modern-day experience with capital litigation.
Attorney Chris Keating, who supervised Addison's defense, said there was no legal "infrastructure" in place for a death penalty case — no bank of motions built from other cases, no expertise and a severe dearth of resources to handle the astronomical costs of such a case. He likened it to being told to build a nuclear bomb for the first time.
Former Attorney General Phil McLaughlin was the only panelist willing to address a question about whether race — Addison is black, his victim white — contributed to his death sentence.
He contrasted Addison's sentence with that of John Brooks — a wealthy, white businessman convicted of paying others to kill a handyman he thought had stolen from his family. The same year Addison was sentenced to death a jury gave Brooks a life sentence.
"I cannot imagine how any conscientious citizen could not be riveted by the contrast," said McLaughlin, who cast a dissenting vote on a panel that voted in December 2010 to retain the death penalty.
New Hampshire Public Radio posts, "State Criminal Justice Officials Discuss Death Penalty Challenges," By Ryan Lessard.
Top-ranking officials from the New Hampshire criminal justice system gathered to discuss the logistical and political challenges the state would face if it had to implement capital punishment for the first time in more than 70 years.
Chief Justice Tina Nadeau of the New Hampshire Superior Court says the task of trying a capital case is daunting for a state with no relevant experience.
“It’s sort of like due process on steroids. So, everything gets litigated, everything is weighed, everything is researched and everything is considered thoughtfully.”