Senate committee splits on death penalty repeal; issue to be decided next week on floor
CONCORD – Whether the state repeals the death penalty will be decided on the Senate floor next week.
After an all-day public hearing largely in support of repealing the death penalty, the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday voted 2-2 to kill House Bill 1170.
Concern was raised at the hearing by committee chair Sen. Sharron Carson, R-Londonderry, that if the death penalty is repealed, the state’s sole death row inmate, Michael Addison, may not be executed.
Addison was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2006 shooting death of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs.
Under the bill, Addison’s death sentence does not change, although Carson contends sections of law that deal with the capital murder procedure and the execution are repealed, which would make a death sentence impossible.
Supporters had hoped to amend the bill to make it clearer that Addison would remain on death row if the bill passes.
Repeal proponents are buoyed by Gov. Maggie Hassan’s support and the 225-104 House vote to repeal.
The vote in the Senate is expected to be close and likely to be decided by one or two senators.
In committee Tuesday, Carson and Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, voted to kill the bill, while Sens. Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, and Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, two bill sponsors, voted against killing the bill.
Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, was absent when the committee made its decision.
The Senate is expected to act on the bill April 17.