Today's New Hampshire Union Leader reports, "House committee votes to repeal the death penalty."
The House Criminal Justice and Public Works Committee voted, 14-3, to pass House Bill 1170, which would repeal the state’s capital murder statute.
The committee has never backed repealing the death penalty. The House is expected to approve the bill, which still has an uphill battle in the Senate.
The bill’s prime sponsor, committee vice chairman Rep. Robert Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, said after the committee vote, “I’m totally amazed.” Cushing, whose father was gunned down by an off-duty Hampton police officer in 1988, has long been an advocate for repealing the death penalty.
“It’s been a long process,” he said, “and we still have a long ways to go.
Committee chairman and longtime death penalty proponent Rep. Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth, said she always believed the death penalty was an insurance blanket over police officers, but recently two people were convicted of capital murder — a white man who was sentenced to life in prison and a black man who sits on death row.
Pantelakos said she has a grandson who will soon graduate from the police academy and another who will graduate with an engineering degree.
“Why is a police officer’s life more valuable than an engineer’s?” she asked.
"N.H. House committee backs death penalty repeal by large margin," is by Kathleen Ronayne for the Concord Monitor.
Among them was Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff, a Penacook Democrat and retired U.S. marshal, who served on a death penalty study commission created in 2009 and said he cast the deciding vote then against repeal.
“It really is a barbaric practice and the time is now to put it aside, and I think to give somebody life imprisonment so they can think every day about what they’ve done is more of a punishment than ending their life,” Shurtleff said after the vote.
Shurtleff has supported the death penalty as a means of protecting law enforcement officers in the past. But he said testimony on the repeal bill and an article by former Manchester police officer John Breckenridge – whose partner Michael Briggs was killed in the line of duty – arguing in favor of repeal resonated with him and pushed him to change his view. (This bill as written would not change the status of Briggs’s killer, Michael Addison, who is on death row.)
"NH House committee recommends repealing death penalty," by Kevin Landrigan for the Nashua Telegraph.
The campaign to make 2014 the year New Hampshire repeals the death penalty got a big shot in the arm with the overwhelming endorsement of a key House committee Tuesday.
The 14-3 vote of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee marks the first time this panel has ever brought a capital punishment repeal bill to the full House with a positive recommendation.
“We view this as a very good sign,” said Arnie Alpert, of the American Friends Services Committee, one of the leading organizers of the anti-death penalty movement in the state.
"House Committee Recommends Repeal Of Death Penalty," is AP coverage, via New Hampshire Public Radio.
A bipartisan vote of 14-3 in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday sends the bill to the full House, perhaps as early as next week.
The bill faces an uncertain future in the Republican-led Senate.
The Legislature voted to repeal capital punishment in 2000, but then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen vetoed the bill.
Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she supports repeal as long as it is not applied retroactively to the case of Michael Addison, who was sentenced to die for killing a Manchester police officer in 2006.
WMUR-TV posts, "House committee endorses death penalty repeal," by Josh McElveen.
Three years ago, New Hampshire expanded its death penalty statute to include the crime of murder during a home invasion. It was largely in response to the slaying of Mont Vernon mother Kimberly Cates.
But by a wider margin than expected, the House Committee on Criminal Justice on Tuesday voted to repeal the death penalty, a first for the committee.
It was a satisfying day for the bill's sponsor, Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, a long-time advocate of abolishing capital punishment.
"This has been a long process," he said. "We still have a ways to go, but I think it's a time to be hopeful, and I think New Hampshire is going to join the rest of the rest of the world and declare the death penalty is a human rights violation."
Earlier coverage from New Hampshire begins at the link.