"Measure to Repeal Death Penalty Fails by a Single Vote in New Hampshire Senate," is the New York Times report by Katharine Q. Seelye.
In a tie vote, the New Hampshire Senate deadlocked Thursday on whether to repeal the death penalty, leaving the current law intact and New Hampshire as the lone state in New England that allows the execution of anyone convicted of a capital crime.
Only one person here is on death row, but his fate had as much to do with the vote as anything else. That inmate, Michael Addison, was convicted in 2008 in the shooting death of a Manchester police officer in 2006.
Proponents of the death penalty want him executed, but his case has been tied up in legal appeals. State senators opposed to the death penalty said that they understood the visceral feelings against Mr. Addison and that their measure would still allow his execution even as it abolished the law authorizing it. Death penalty supporters said that the bill posed constitutional problems and that Mr. Addison’s life could end up being spared.
The New Hampshire Union Leader reports, "Death penalty stays on the books in New Hampshire," by Garry Rayno.
"This is probably the most difficult vote any of us will take," said Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, who supported repeal but acknowledged she met with Manchester police who had lost their colleague, Michael Briggs, when he was murdered by the state's only death row inmate, Michael Addison, in 2006.
"This is all about people changing their minds," said the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, who said conversations will continue with Senators over the next few weeks.
As about 100 death penalty repeal supporters silently marched outside the State House and members of the Manchester Police Department hierarchy were seen in the front row of the standing-room-only Senate gallery, senators debated the widely watched and awaited decision.
The debate on HB 1170, to repeal the death penalty, began around 10:15 a.m. with Nashua Democratic Sen. Bette Lasky, one of 12 co-sponsors of the bill, offering an amendment that was defeated. Lasky's amendment would have exempted Addison from having his sentence commuted to life.
"N.H. Senate Votes to Keep Death Penalty," is by Kathleen Ronayne of the Concord Monitor, via the Valley News.
During yesterday’s floor debate, several senators supportive of repeal shared the personal reasons for their votes. Beyond weighing their morals, they said the death penalty carries the risk of ending an innocent person’s life and that it has not been shown to deter crime. New Hampshire is the only New England state that still has the death penalty.
“Vengeance is a raw human emotion, but in the end, is it the most effective way to deal with the violence in our society?” Lasky asked. “Let our legacy in this chamber today be one of enlightenment, not death and darkness.”
Sen. David Pierce, D-Lebanon, said he supported the death penalty for many years until he was asked to write a brief justifying a man’s death sentence as a Pennsylvania law clerk in the 1990s.
“I was three people removed from actually pushing that needle myself,” he said. “That forever changed my idea of the death penalty and it continued to weigh on my conscience.”
Sen. Bob Odell, R-New London, was the only Republican aside from bill sponsor Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, to vote in favor of repeal. A longtime supporter of the death penalty, he said he changed his mind because he doesn’t know how he would explain to his grandchildren that the state executed someone.
SeaCoast Online posts, "Death penalty repeal dies in tie Senate vote," by Kyle Stucker. It contains a roll call of the yes and no votes.
State Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, was the bill's chief sponsor. He said he was "disappointed" about the tie vote, although the efforts weren't entirely defeated because the Senate also voted Thursday to table the bill, which means it could go up for another vote before the session ends.
"We've got a couple of months until the end of the session to find an additional senator who will support the repeal," said Cushing, whose father and brother-in-law were murdered. "One thing that is certain is that the issue is not going to go away."
Any senator on the floor can request the bill go back before a vote at any point in the current session as long as the request receives majority support from the Senate, according to the Senate clerk's office.
Cushing said he's not sure what it will take to sway one of the bill's 12 opponents, for whom he said he has "a tremendous amount of respect." That said, he hopes at least one of them will "be the voice to respond to the call of history" on a "very complicated" issue.
Ealier coverage of the New Hampshire repeal legislation begins at the link.