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New Hampshire Supreme Court to hear convicted killer Addison's appeal this week

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 12. 2012 7:53PM

Defendant Michael Addison watches as his uncle, Lamont Addison leaves court after testifying for the defense in the penalty phase of his trial for the conviction of capital murder in the death of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs in Hillsborough County Superior court in 2008. (UNION LEADER FILE)

The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in the appeal of the man sentenced to die for the 2006 murder of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs.

Defense attorneys have appealed condemned killer Michael Addison's conviction and the death sentence imposed by a Hillsborough County jury in 2008.

Addison was convicted of capital murder in the death of Briggs, who was gunned down in an alley while in pursuit of a suspect in 2006.

In an order handed down Nov. 2, the high court set aside a full day for hearing the 22 issues raised in the condemned man's appeal.

Addison's attorneys have raised the constitutionality of the state's death penalty as an issue in the case.

Several other questions of law have been raised on appeal. The justices are being asked to decide if the trial judge erred in not changing the location of the trial, and whether prosecutors were unfairly permitted to raise "passion, prejudice or other arbitrary factors" in arguments to the jury.

Previously, Addison's lawyers lost a bid to have Justice Robert Lynn remove himself from the case. The attorneys also lost a motion brought in Hillsborough Superior Court to allow emails from then-Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and a political advisor to be used in the appeal.

A couple of weeks ago, a single justice of the Supreme Court ordered the release of a motion made by Addison's attorneys during the sentencing phase of the trial concerning his attempt to save himself from the death penalty by pleading guilty.

In that motion, the defense lawyers asked the judge to allow the jury to consider Addison's offer to plead guilty to capital murder with a sentence of life without parole, rather than risk the death penalty at trial.

In scheduling Wednesday's oral arguments, the court grouped the 22 issues into general categories.

First the justices will hear appeals concerning the trial court's instructions on the reasonable doubt standard for acquittal in a criminal case and whether the trial should have been moved to another venue.

Then, the court has set aside time to hear appeals dealing with the sentencing of Addison to death, including the legislature's decision to use lethal injection as the form of execution.

Other categories for argument include claims of constitutional errors in the court's refusal to throw out some of the prosecution's evidence, as well as the burden of proof issue.

Finally, lawyers will argue whether the verdict was influenced by passion or prejudice.

The morning session of oral argument will begin at 9 a.m. and the afternoon session at 1 p.m.

The justices announced that seating in its chamber will be limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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