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Fate of cop-killer Michael Addison shapes death penalty repeal debate before Senate panel
About 200 people filled Representatives Hall for a public hearing on House Bill 1170, which would end the death penalty for capital murder and replace it with life without parole.
And they said if the death penalty is repealed, the state's sole death row inmate, Michael Addison, is apt to have his sentence commuted by a federal court — and that, they contended, should not happen.
Under the bill, Addison's death sentence does not change, although committee Chairman Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, contends the bill repeals sections of law that deal with the capital murder procedure and the execution, which would make a death sentence impossible. Others disagreed.
The bill is expected to face a more difficult battle in the Senate, where the vote is likely to be decided by one or two senators.
Kensington Police Chief Mike Sielicki defended the death penalty, saying it is a tool that helps keep the public safe.
Lawmakers passed a repeal in 2000, only to have then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen's veto sustained.
Religious leaders said execution leaves no room for personal redemption.
"Lent is a time of contrition, of changing minds and hearts toward a more civil and just realm," Hirschfeld told the committee.
McLaughlin told the committee he was moved by the daughter of slain Dartmouth College professors Half and Susanne Zantop. McLaughlin said she "was the measure of dignity" and showed how people could rise above feelings of anger.
The committee will decide at a later date what recommendation to make on the bill.
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