"New Hampshire House votes to repeal death penalty," is AP coverage by Lynne Tuohy. It's via the Worcester Telegram.
After two hours of often emotional debate, the New Hampshire House overwhelmingly passed a measure to repeal the state's death penalty Wednesday after rejecting an amendment that would have spared the life of the state's only convict on death row.
The House voted 225-104 in favor of repeal. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where its fate is uncertain.
Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she supports repeal as long as it is does not upset the death sentence of Michael Addison, who was convicted of killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006. The bill passed Wednesday applies to future cases and would not, if signed into law, affect Addison's death sentence.
This Associated Press photograph accompanies the AP report:
A prime sponsor to repeal the state's death penalty, state Rep. Rennie Cushing, smiles on the house floor after lawmakers voted 225-104 to repeal the law Wednesday.
The Concord Monitor reports, "N.H. House supports death penalty repeal, sends bill to Senate," by Kathleen Ronayne.
The bill, which passed on a 225-104 vote, will now move to the Senate, where its fate is less certain. Anti-death-penalty groups have been focusing their attention on individual senators for months.
“If we let those who kill turn us into killers, then evil triumphs,” said Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat and the bill’s prime sponsor. Cushing, whose father was murdered in 1988, has been fighting for years to repeal the death penalty.
“If I changed my position on the death penalty because my father was murdered, that would only give more power to the murderers . . . not only would my father be taken away from me, but so would my values,” Cushing said.
New Hampshire allows the death penalty for six types of murder: murder of a law enforcement official; murder for hire; murder during a rape or sexual assault, a home invasion or kidnapping; and murder while serving a life sentence in prison.
Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, a Concord Democrat and chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, highlighted the costs of pursuing a death sentence. Addison’s case already has cost the state $2.4 million for his prosecution and $2.6 million for his defense. In contrast, the average annual cost of housing an inmate is $35,000, she said.
“Ask yourself, ‘Is this the best use of taxpayer dollars?’ ” Wallner said.
"House overwhelmingly adopts death penalty repeal," is the New Hampshire Union Leader report by Garry Rayno.
The House also defeated an attempt by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, to convert existing dealt penalty sentences to life–without-parole, which would have commuted Addison’s death sentence.
Vaillancourt said it would be hypocritical to vote to abolish the death penalty and not commute Addison’s sentence.
“You can’t have it both ways,” Vaillancourt told his colleagues. “You can’t be for abolishing the death penalty and for killing one person.”
Vaillancourt’s amendment was killed 245-85.
Hassan reiterated Wednesday that she would oppose commuting Addison’s sentence.
Under the bill passed by the House, Addison’s death sentence does not change.
"NH House overwhelmingly approved repealing death penalty, measure goes to Senate," is by Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph.
A trio of House members who had relatives murdered all offered support for the law’s repeal.
“If we let those who kill turn us into killers then evil triumphs, violence triumphs and things just get worse,” said state Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, whose father was murdered 25 years ago.
The New York Times reports, "New Hampshire Nears Repeal of Death Penalty," by Katherine Q. Seelye. Here's the beginning:
In October 2006, John Breckinridge, a Manchester police officer, saw his partner, Michael Briggs, shot to death in an alley. It was a searing moment that not only cost the Briggs family a father and husband, it also sent Mr. Breckinridge into a spiral of depression and doubt.
He became obsessed with the suspect, Michael Addison, and wanted nothing more than for him to be put to death. When the death penalty came up for debate a few years ago in New Hampshire, Mr. Breckinridge testified in favor of it.
But after a spiritual journey that renewed his Roman Catholic faith, Mr. Breckinridge emerged on the other side of the debate.
“For me, this had been all about anger,” he said recently. “And I realized my anger was about vengeance, not justice.”
Mr. Breckinridge’s change of heart was for deeply personal reasons, but it reflects a significant mood shift that has taken place here over the last few years and that could lead to New Hampshire’s abolition of capital punishment.
Earlier coverage from New Hampshire begins at the link. You can also jump to a must-read detailing John Breckinridge's spiritual journey.