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Committee gets votes needed to move death penalty repeal bill forward


CONCORD — Repealing the death penalty picked up a little more life Thursday when the Senate Judiciary Committee revisited an earlier decision.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee had voted 2-2 to kill House Bill 1170, but on Thursday members voted 3-2 to pass the bill the House approved by a better than two-to-one margin.

Committee member Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, had to take her father to an appointment Tuesday and was unable to return in time for the committee vote.

She cast the deciding vote on Thursday to recommend the bill pass the Senate.

The chairman of the committee, Sen. Sharron Carson, R-Londonderry, has concerns that passing the bill could prevent the state from carrying out the death sentence on Michael Addison, who was convicted of capital murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006.

Under the bill, Addison's death sentence does not change, according to the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, noting that state law forbids changing any sentence that occurred prior to a law's repeal.

He said the state Supreme Court ruled on the issue in its 2014 opinion in New Hampshire v. Kurt Carpentino.

Supporters had proposed an amendment to clarify that Addison would remain on death row if the bill passes and to extend the death penalty possibility for capital murders committed before July 1.

Cushing praised Soucy for taking a stand on the bill.

"People are being thoughtful," he said. "The conversations will continue."

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill April 17, and it will likely decided by one or two senators.

In committee, Carson and Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, voted to kill the bill, while Sens. Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, two bill sponsors, and Soucy voted to approve the bill.

New Hampshire has not executed anyone since 1939.

grayno@unionleader.com

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