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November 14. 2012 12:50PM

Supreme Court hears Addison execution appeal

CONCORD -- Family members of both slain Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs and his convicted killer, Michael Addison, attended oral arguments today at the New Hampshire Supreme Court on the appeal of Addison's conviction and death sentence.

The all-day hearing includes 22 issues ranging from the trial venue to the wording of the instructions given to the jury that first convicted Addison of the October 2006 killing and then sentenced him to death rather than life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The justices are dividing the hearing into segments, with issues grouped. The issues in the morning session were on jury instructions, the venue, the evidence of past crimes and the Hillsborough County Superior Court North judge's refusal to permit introduction of a section of Addison's recorded interview with police in which he said he didn't intend to shoot Briggs.

Defense attorney David Rothstein argued the venue for the trial should have been "anywhere that's not 100 yards from the police department," referring to the distance between the court and the Manchester Police Department.

But assistant attorney general Elizabeth Woodcock countered that the shooting of a police officer is a "unique event" and said because of that and the media coverage, "People generally knew about this."

The defense also said that the prosecution's recounting of the educational, social and entertainment options available to a convict serving a life sentence unfairly impacted the jury's sentencing decision.

But Justice Robert Lynn said when the defense used as a mitigating factor, "To die in prison is harsh," then it was fair for the prosecution to say what is available to prisoners, including television.

The session was to resume at 1 p.m. After oral testimony, the justices will have thousands of pages of trial transcripts and written arguments to read and consider before reaching a decision.

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