New Hampshire Death Penalty News

Started by Jeff1857, December 04, 2007, 03:38:52 PM

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December 04, 2007, 03:38:52 PM Last Edit: May 27, 2008, 03:25:57 AM by Jeff1857
Execution details are not clear ---- State law doesn't specify how to administer lethal injection

2 very different men stand accused of capital murder in New Hampshire for2 very different crimes. 27-year-old Michael Addison, a black man with a long criminal history, is charged with shooting a police officer trying to arrest him. John Brooks, a 55-year-old white multimillionaire, is accused of hiring men to kidnap and kill a man he believed had stolen from him.

In theory, both men would face the same penalty if they're convicted: death by lethal injection. But the specifics are far from certain. While lethal injection has been New Hampshire's method of execution since 1986, the state hasn't executed anyone for nearly 70 years and it has never detailed how a lethal injection would work: which drugs would be used, who would carry it out and where.

The situation is further complicated by a case the U.S. Supreme Court will hear next month, challenging Kentucky's lethal injection protocol. The high court's September decision to hear the case caused an unofficial moratorium on executions as states await its decision. Whatever the court decides could have a bearing on how New Hampshire writes its execution handbook.

"The case will not just resolve lethal injections in Kentucky, it will give guidance to the whole country," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit that has been critical of capital punishment. "A state like New Hampshire, if they want to use lethal injection or if they want to prosecute these cases, may have to spell out how the lethal injection is to be carried out, what training they're giving people to do it, why they use these drugs and not other drugs, what steps they take to prevent unnecessary pain."

'Off to a bad start'

Lethal injection is the preferred method of execution in 37 of the 38 states where the death penalty is legal. (Nebraska is the only state to solely use the electric chair.) Most states use a three-drug cocktail: one drug to knock the person unconscious, one to paralyze him and one to stop his heart.

The formula was hastily developed in 1977 by Dr. Jay Chapman, the former chief medical examiner in Oklahoma. Asked to come up with a humane alternative to the firing squad, Chapman proposed the 3-drug combination. In 1982, Texas became the first state to execute anyone by lethal injection.

Since then, nearly every state with lethal injection on the books has copied Texas, which has held more than four times the executions of any other state in the past 30 years. Documents show that states don't often do their own research and that unskilled technicians carry out the procedure.

The lethal injection protocol "was off to a bad start from the beginning," Dieter said. "It was a medical procedure adopted from operating rooms but translated to prisons, where there are no doctors involved in the executions. . . . There's not much justification for (the three drugs) being used."

In fact, Chapman himself has said in recent years that it may be time to change the formula. He said he's surprised to see his protocol still used today and suggested updating it with newer, better drugs.

The crux of the Kentucky case, Baze v. Rees, is whether the prevalent three-drug cocktail causes an "unnecessary risk of pain." But the Supreme Court is unlikely to call for a complete ban on executions, lawyers and experts said. Instead, they said, it will consider the standard by which to measure whether lethal injection violates the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.

The examples that it does are pretty gruesome. Take Charles Walker, who was executed in Illinois in 1990 for shooting a young couple. According to news accounts, the executioner, who was brought in from Missouri to perform Illinois's first execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, inserted the needle pointing toward Walker's fingers instead of his heart, prolonging the process.

Or Joseph Clark, a murderer from Ohio. A few minutes after technicians inserted the needle, Clark's vein collapsed and he cried out, "It don't work. It don't work." It took 30 minutes to find another vein.

Or Angel Diaz, whose execution last year caused widespread outrage. It took 34 minutes for the Florida murderer to die, something originally attributed to liver disease. But an autopsy showed that the technician had inserted the needle through Diaz's vein and out the other side, allowing the deadly chemicals to flow into Diaz's soft tissue rather than into his vein. Diaz grimaced the entire time.

While some botched lethal injections appear to be the result of human error, others appear to be due to the drugs themselves. There are dozens of stories of inmates writhing, groaning and gasping for air after the drugs are administered, suggesting that they're not fully unconscious or paralyzed.

But it's impossible to tell whether they're in pain because the first two drugs mask a person's reaction. Veterinarians have said the method is unacceptable for putting dogs and cats to sleep.

Relying on other states

Records suggest New Hampshire's lethal injection law was developed by the same copycat method as other states'. However, Steve Merrill, then the state's attorney general, said last week the state is too independent for that.

Merrill said he proposed changing the method of execution from hanging to lethal injection because of a much-publicized criminal case. In 1984, 8-year-old Tammy Belanger was abducted while walking to school in Exeter.

"I became convinced, relatively soon after becoming attorney general, that if we caught her abductor, there would be a hue and cry for an execution," Merrill said. "I thought for the first-in-the-nation primary state to have a gallows erected and to have a hanging would be unseemly."

But transcripts from 1986 legislative hearings show New Hampshire was relying on other states for guidance. Bruce Mohl, then-deputy attorney general and now a retired judge, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he didn't know which drugs would be used in the state's executions.

"I'm not sure I know the exact substance," Mohl said. "It's a chemical that has been used in other states. One that has been, I believe, tested as being an efficient and painless . . . method of execution."

The committee asked Merrill the same question a few days later. He said the drugs "are basically muscle relaxers." One senator asked how the state would decide which drugs to use on whom.

"Any of them have been approved in all of the states that have passed lethal injections," Merrill said. "I realize that medical technicians and physicians disagree on this, but in layman's terms, there is no noticeable pain involved other than the shot involved. It simply is a muscle relaxer."

Lawmakers also heard from human-rights activists who argued that execution is cruel, and from nurses who said they would refuse to participate. Shirley Girouard of the New Hampshire Nurses Association told the Senate Judiciary Committee that to do so would breach the nurses' code.

"The goal of the nursing profession (is) the promotion of restoration and health," Girouard said. "It's doubtful to me, first of all, that any licensed person, (and) that would include registered nurses or certified people who have the skill, would be willing to put their license on the line . . . to do this."

Lethal injection passed the Legislature on the second try. The law now says death "shall be inflicted by continuous, intravenous administration of a lethal quantity of an ultrashort-acting barbituate in combination with a chemical paralytic." If that can't be done, the condemned will be hanged.

Merrill, now a consultant, said he still believes lethal injection is the best method.

"I am not sympathetic with those who say that we need to spend extraordinary amounts of money to be certain that the injection itself is neither painful in the slightest and is the most effective mechanism of taking a life," he said. "Those who make those arguments forget that we're killing the person."

Potential executions

Today, New Hampshire has no prescribed method of lethal injection. Jeff Lyons, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, the agency tasked with developing one, said the department has been slowly working on one for a couple of years. He said it has zeroed in on Connecticut's policy as a model: when to serve the last meal, when to give last rites, when to move to the execution chamber.

But nothing has been finalized, including what drugs would be used, he said. Another glaring loose end is the state's lack of an execution chamber. The old hanging room at the state prison in Concord has been turned into a recreation area, Lyons said, and the piece of plywood that for years covered the 15-foot hole where the inmate would drop was permanently replaced with new flooring recently.

The state doesn't even have a proper death row, Lyons said. What it has are four cells set off by themselves in the maximum security area of the prison. Built in the early 1980s, the area has in the past been used as a place for inmates to calm down after a fracas and for dry storage, Lyons said.

Addison is currently being held there while he awaits trial, Lyons said.

Addison's lawyers originally said they planned on filing a constitutional challenge to lethal injection on the grounds that it is cruel and unusual punishment. One of Addison's lawyers, Richard Guerriero, also represented the last man charged with capital murder in New Hampshire, Gordon Perry.

Perry was accused of shooting an Epsom police officer in 1997. Before he pleaded guilty as part of a deal with the attorney general's office that allowed him to avoid the death penalty, his lawyers alleged that lethal injection was cruel.

"Lethal injection is not a kinder, gentler way of killing," they wrote in 1998. "The reality is bursting veins, convulsions, unexpected drug interactions, needles popping from arms, blood and toxins spraying the walls of the execution chamber, witnesses traumatized to the point of unconsciousness."

Perry pleaded before the judge in his case could rule on the motion. Guerriero said last week he and his colleagues will now likely hold off on filing a similar challenge in Addison's case.

"I expect both sides and the court to delay consideration of the lethal injection issue in the Addison case until after the U.S. Supreme Court decision," he said.

But Addison's may not be the 1st execution the state has to perform. Gary Sampson, who pleaded guilty to carjacking and then stabbing to death 2 Massachusetts men, was ordered by a federal judge to be executed in New Hampshire.

Massachusetts doesn't have a death penalty. The judge in Sampson's case said executing him here would make the procedure "more accessible" to those interested in it and impacted by it.

Sampson's execution could be a long way away, however. His lawyer, David Ruhnke, said Sampson is at the beginning of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which may not be resolved for years.

"If and when everything associated with the case is lost, then the issue would become the effect of the Supreme Court decision in the Kentucky case, which will come long before our appellate case is over," Ruhnke said. "Whatever impact it has on the Sampson case, we'll see at that time."

Rep. Bill Knowles, the chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, has also adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Knowles isn't scrambling yet to revise the state's lethal injection law in anticipation of the high court's verdict. He said he has his eye on the Kentucky case but he's not holding his breath.

"We do have backup in the state of New Hampshire," he said last week. "We can hang."

I like that last sentence  ;).


We definitely need more people in DC like Bill Knowles.
Posted on: December 04, 2007, 01:46:45 PM
CONCORD, N.H.--A millionaire businessmen charged with murder for hire is complaining about life at the New Hampshire State Prison.
more stories like this

John "Jay" Brooks was transferred from a county jail to the state prison this month at the request of prosecutors, who were concerned Brooks was using candy and sneakers from the commissary to influence witnesses in his upcoming trial.

Brooks now is housed in a prison secure housing unit, where Michael Addison -- New Hampshire's other capital murder defendant -- lives. Both face the death penalty if convicted.

In a court filing, Brooks asked to be returned to the county jail or require the prison to grant him more liberties so he can manage his diabetes and prepare for his trial.


I guess the rich boy's money ain't gettin him anywhere where he is now. Poor lil thing....... ;D ;D


A federal judge has ordered state prison officials to immediately accommodate John "Jay" Brooks's diabetic needs while he awaits trial in his death penalty case. Brooks's lawyers went to federal court just before Christmas to complain that Brooks had been moved to the prison from jail, where he enjoyed more lenient conditions.

Brooks's complaints focused mainly on his diabetes and access to his legal team. Brooks, a former president of PolyVac Inc. of Manchester, was arrested in April and charged with hiring men to kidnap and kill Derry trash hauler Jack Reid Sr. Brooks had been held at the Strafford County jail in Dover until mid-December. State prosecutors moved him over concerns he was buying candy and sneakers at the jail commissary allegedly to influence witnesses, according to court records.

At the jail, Brooks had freedom to exercise, cook his own food in microwaves he had donated to the jail and see his lawyers seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

In prison, Brooks is locked in his cell 23 hours a day. He said he is being denied adequate meals and exercise to control his diabetes. He also said prison officials have refused to check his blood-sugar level frequently enough. Brooks's attorneys also filed affidavits expressing concern for what they described as Brooks's declining health since his move to the prison.

In addition, Brooks said the prison does not allow him adequate time with his attorneys, who are preparing for an August trial.

Friday afternoon, federal magistrate Judge James Muirhead ordered the prison to begin testing Brooks's blood sugar twice a day and to allow him the food and exercise he needs to control his diabetes. Muirhead also scheduled a hearing on the matter Wednesday at the federal court.

The state attorney general's office has not yet filed a response to Brooks's complaints.


Another article on Brooks

Before he was moved to the state prison last month to await his death penalty trial, millionaire John "Jay" Brooks was leading an atypical life at the Strafford County jail, according to prosecutors.

In addition to donating five microwaves to the jail, Brooks also "hired" other inmates to clean his cell, bring him meals and serve as his personal trainer, prosecutors said during a court hearing yesterday. Brooks also offered to start a $15,000 education program for other inmates, but he was turned down when jail officials decided the program wasn't one they wanted.

At the prison, meanwhile, Brooks spends nearly all day locked alone in a cell without the exercise and food he needs to manage his diabetes, his attorneys said.

Brooks's behavior at the jail, where he spent a year, and his abrupt transfer to the prison in mid-December have become the subjects of a federal court fight between his defense team and the state attorney general's office, which is prosecuting Brooks for allegedly hiring men to kidnap and kill a Derry man in 2005. He is scheduled to go to trial in August.

While jail officials describe Brooks as a "model inmate" who was polite, cooperative and rule-abiding, prosecutors say they suspect he was having a jail corrections officer followed after work and influencing witnesses by buying them candy and sneakers from the jail's commissary, according to court records. They have also suggested Brooks had an inmate or inmates beaten up, according to testimony yesterday.

Brooks and his lawyers have asked a federal court to return Brooks to the jail or grant him more leniency at the state prison. For nearly three hours yesterday, jail and Strafford County officials testified they had no indication until after Brooks was moved that state officials suspected he was creating security concerns. If the concerns were valid, the defense asked, why didn't state prosecutors alert jail staff early on, before they moved Brooks?

Jail staff said they knew Brooks was buying food and other items for other less fortunate inmates but added that doing so did not violate the jail's rules. Lt. Bruce Pelkie said Brooks was such a good inmate at the jail that he wished he had "100 more just like him."

Raymond Bower, Strafford County administrator, came to know Brooks while working shifts at the jail. He said the $300-plus Brooks spent a month on commissary purchases was high but not unheard of. And he said Brooks was not the only inmate to have donated items to the jail.

The defense also questioned the legitimacy of the state's suggestion that Brooks had a corrections officer followed. Neither prosecutors nor the state police ever gave jail officials any hard evidence of that concern, they said.

Federal Magistrate Judge James Muirhead interrupted the defense's testimony several times yesterday to add his own fierce challenges to the state's case for moving Brooks from the jail to the prison. Muirhead did so before hearing any of the state's evidence, which is expected to be presented today when the hearing resumes at 9 a.m. in federal court.

At one point, Muirhead said he believes prosecutors - young female attorneys at the state attorney general's office - engineered the transfer to punish Brooks and did so on very thin evidence. "Just because a couple of young people in the attorney general's office get nervous doesn't make it true," Muirhead said of the state's allegations that Brooks had tried to influence witnesses and follow a corrections officer.

Muirhead also blasted the state prison for its "record of miserable health and dental care" and accused it of mistreating Brooks's diabetes until he issued an emergency order last month demanding better care.

In addition, Muirhead accused state police and prosecutors of creating evidence after they transferred Brooks to justify the move. And Muirhead twice warned a state attorney in court that he'd report her for professional misconduct if she suggested Brooks had misbehaved without offering the necessary proof.

When lawyer Laura Lombardi of the state attorney general's office asked Bower, the county administrator, that Brooks "had other inmates roughed up and harassed," Muirhead objected before the defense did.

"You better back that up," Muirhead told Lombardi. Later he added, "We're not in the world of speculation here." When Lombardi asked another defense witness if he knew that two inmates in particular had been assaulted, Muirhead joined the defense in objecting.

Muirhead reassured defense attorney Christopher Carter that he'd report Lombardi for professional misconduct if she did not eventually provide evidence showing those assaults happened and were connected to Brooks. If that evidence doesn't materialize today, Muirhead said he'd get in touch with the Professional Conduct Committee about Lombardi's line of questioning.

"And we'll see how she likes it," he said.

Yesterday's court day ended before the state had a chance to call its own witnesses.

Is this judge a judge or part of the defense team?


Is this judge a judge or part of the defense team?

Great Jeff!  ;D


I´m not sure if there´s a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.

Granny B

Wonder how much Brooks had to "donate" to Judge Muirhead to get this wonderful representation in court ???
" Closure? Closure is a misused word in the English language.  There is no such thing as closure for the family of a murder victim.  There will never be any closure for the death of our loved ones until we are dead ourselves.  The families have a lifetime sentence of anguish and sadness." 
Susan Levy


BRENTWOOD, N.H.--A New Hampshire millionaire accused of hiring men to kidnap and kill a man three years ago may argue self defense at his trial.
more stories like this

Prosecutors say former PolyVac president John Brooks planned the murder in a Las Vegas bar, then shipped a stun gun, handcuffs and pepper spray to New Hampshire before he flew east to carry out the murder-for-hire scheme.

The state wants a handwriting sample from Brooks to compare it with the Federal Express shipping label it says Brooks filled out when he sent the box of weapons to the Deerfield farm where Jack Reid Sr. was beaten to death with a hammer.

Brooks is charged with capital murder, first-degree murder and capital murder conspiracy. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

On Monday, Brooks' lawyers told the court they may argue self defense but offered few details of their strategy.


Lawyers for Michael Addison, who is charged with capital murder, have filed four new challenges to New Hampshire's death penalty, continuing their six-month attempt to bar the form of punishment in his case.

The process of sentencing someone to die is too confusing for jurors to understand, they said, and the risk of executing an innocent person is too high. They also argued that the method of choosing jurors, which excludes people opposed to the death penalty, is biased toward conviction. The process is also likely to exclude black jurors, who are more often opposed to the death penalty, they said. Studies have shown that all-white juries are more likely to convict black defendants whose victims are white.

Addison, a 27-year-old black man, is scheduled to stand trial for Briggs's murder in September. Prosecutors say Addison shot and killed Briggs, who was white, while he was on patrol in October 2006.

Addison's legal team of three public defenders has pledged to fight the death penalty from every possible direction. They filed 15 challenges last year, all of which were rejected by Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Kathleen McGuire. The team filed several more late last week:

• The risk that an innocent person will be executed is well-documented.

Since 1973, the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit critical of the death penalty, says that 126 people have been released from death row. Another study shows 29 people were wrongfully killed between 1900 and 1985.

"As long as there is a death penalty, wrongful convictions and executions will occur," they said.

• Jurors misunderstand the instructions they're supposed to follow. The Capital Jury Project, a group of researchers who interview past capital jurors, has talked with 1,200 jurors in 14 states. It found that jurors were confused about a great deal. One example: Half of the jurors thought they were required to sentence the defendant to death if his or her crime was "heinous, vile or depraved."

• Excluding people who are opposed to the death penalty from capital juries makes it more likely that the defendant will be convicted.

Studies show that so-called "death qualified" jurors are more likely to be white, Protestant males who are less educated and less sympathetic to the defendant.

The Capital Jury Project, for example, found that nearly half of capital jurors said they could "only accept death as the punishment for killing a police officer, regardless of the circumstances."

• Numerous studies show that race influences whether or not someone is sentenced to death. A 2003 Amnesty International study found that although African Americans make up 12 percent of the country's population, they account for 43 percent of death row inmates. New Hampshire doesn't have safeguards to protect defendants against racial bias, and prosecutors have said they're not needed.

• Ayotte's decision to seek the death penalty in Addison's case was arbitrary. In the past 30 years, the attorney general has sought the death penalty in only four cases. Numerous others, including the 1997 rape and asphyxiation of a 6-year-old Hopkinton girl, might have fit the narrow criteria of a New Hampshire death penalty case but were not prosecuted as such. So why in Addison's case?

"The decision to seek the death penalty in this case was a subjective, even emotional, reaction to the tragic death of a Manchester police officer," they said.

Addison's lawyers said repeatedly in their 60 pages of motions that other courts have struck down some of their arguments. But, they said, the arguments deserve a second look, especially in the context of the New Hampshire Constitution, which they argued is more protective than the federal Constitution.

As proof of New Hampshire's heightened sense of judicial impartiality, they quoted a court case from 1821: "(Jurors') minds should be free as the 'unsunned snow' from any previous impressions and should receive no hue but what the law and evidence at trial may impart."

The attorney general's office has until Jan. 31 to respond. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7.


BRENTWOOD, N.H. -- Lawyers for a Las Vegas millionaire charged in connection with a murder-for-hire plot argued in court Tuesday that the state's death penalty law is outdated.

John Brooks was charged with capital murder. Prosecutors said he orchestrated the death of Jack Reid, of Derry, N.H., two years ago.

Brooks' attorneys said the state has only imposed the death penalty on three occasions in the last century, with the most recent execution coming in 1939.

"It's like a rusty old musket that is hanging on the wall that can't be used safely," attorney David Bruck said. "It raises much too much of a risk of sentencing to death an innocent man."

The case is one of two capital murder cases in New Hampshire's court system. Michael Addison has been charged with capital murder in connection with the shooting death of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs.

Brooks' lawyers also said that recent advances in DNA testing need to be in place in New Hampshire.

"None of the protections that would safeguard against those sorts of errors that people realize nowadays that are necessary are in the New Hampshire law," Bruck said.

But prosecutors said the reason the law is rarely used is because it is selective. They said there are only a narrow range of circumstances where it can be applied, and there are safeguards in place.

"They specifically speak to instances of DNA where it may exonerate somebody, and there are avenues that are available to any criminal defendant to come back and attack a guilty verdict if it's appropriate to do so," Assistant Attorney General Kirsten Wilson said.

As a judge heard arguments on the death penalty, a federal magistrate ruled that Brooks should not have been transferred to the state prison on orders of the attorney general's office. Brooks was taken out of the Strafford County Jail because the state alleged that he was paying inmates for services behind bars.

The magistrate said Brooks was transferred to punish him, and the state was wrong to do so.

Brooks was also ordered Tuesday to provide handwriting samples to the state.

The trial is scheduled to begin in August.


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Ten months after they said they would seek the death penalty against a former New Hampshire businessman, state prosecutors have put their plans in writing.
John Brooks, the founder and former owner of a medical supply company in Manchester, was charged with capital murder in April. He's accused of hiring three other men to kill trash hauler Jack Reid on a horse farm in Deerfield and participated by striking him in the chest with a hammer. Police found Reid's body in the bed of his dump truck a week after he was reported missing in June 2005.

Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said in April that she planned to seek the death penalty against Brooks, but her intent only became official this week when she filed paperwork listing the reasons for the decision.

Brooks' lawyers have said that their client only wanted to talk to Reid, who he suspected had stolen from him, and that any attack was done in self-defense.

Murder for hire and murder during a kidnapping are two of the crimes eligible for the death penalty in New Hampshire.


CONWAY, N.H.--New Hampshire legislators are considering a proposal to expand the death penalty to include those convicted of killing more than one person.

more stories like thisState Sen. Joseph Kenney, who represents the Conway area, said murders in that town last summer are a good reason to expand the law.

In July, store manager James Walker and two Massachusetts friends, Gary Jones and William Jones, were murdered during a botched store robbery.

Michael Woodbury pleaded guilty, but was not eligible for the death penalty.

Attorney General Kelly Ayotte testified at a hearing on Tuesday that the Woodbury case highlights a glaring omission in the death penalty law.

But defense lawyers and the Catholic Church rejected the plan. Michael Iacopino, president of the New Hampshire Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the law is worded unclearly and would cause years of expensive legal battles.

Diane Murphy Quinlan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester said the state cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing.


February 05, 2008, 05:35:27 AM Last Edit: May 27, 2008, 03:28:04 AM by Jeff1857
MANCHESTER - The latest challenges to the state's death penalty law raised by attorneys defending the accused killer of a Manchester police officer fail to show why the law is unconstitutional and should be denied, state prosecutors argued yesterday.

Michael K. "Stix" Addison, 27, of Manchester is charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of patrolman Michael L. Briggs, 35, on Oct. 16, 2006. Addison pleaded innocent. The state said it will seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

State prosecutors yesterday objected to the six most recent defense motions challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty. A hearing on the matter is set for April 10 in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

Addison's attorneys offered no proof that race plays a role in the imposition of the death penalty or that the method of selecting juries in capital murder trials results in jurors biased toward conviction, prosecutors argued.

►$978,000 allocated in death penalty case

The state also disputed the defense team's claim that Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte acted too quickly by announcing her intention to seek the death penalty just hours after Briggs' death on Oct. 17, 2006. Facts supporting a capital murder charge were known within hours of Briggs' death, the state said. In addition, a grand jury indicted Addison on capital murder five months later and Ayotte didn't file her formal notice of intent to seek the death penalty until May 4, 2006.

The state also objected to the defense's claim that the death penalty is unconstitutional because the risk of executing an innocent person is too high and the possibility that a death sentence would be arbitrarily and erroneously imposed is too great given the complexity of the law and jury instructions. Again, the state said the defense offered no proof to back up its claim.

Addison is set to go on trial Sept. 2.


A judge upheld New Hampshire's death penalty law yesterday, rejecting six different arguments that the penalty is unconstitutional. The rulings are a loss for Michael Addison, whose lawyers continue to argue that the death penalty should be barred from his murder case.

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Kathleen McGuire dismissed the six arguments in a single ruling. Several dealt with a practice known as "death qualification," wherein jurors opposed to the death penalty are excluded from serving on death penalty cases. Addison's lawyers argued that doing so leads to juries that are more conviction-prone and therefore, unfair. McGuire disagreed.

"Death qualification merely excludes those jurors who cannot, due to their strong feelings on the death penalty, apply the law of New Hampshire in the penalty phase" of a capital trial, she wrote.

She said Addison's lawyers did not prove that death qualified juries are more likely to convict. For the second time in two days, McGuire pointed to procedural safeguards as a way to prevent unfair juries. (McGuire rejected two other death penalty arguments Thursday with the same reasoning.)

McGuire also rejected an argument that the death penalty in New Hampshire is cruel and unusual punishment because, she said, Addison's lawyers did not offer sufficient evidence to prove that it is.

Addison, 28, is charged with capital murder in connection with the 2006 shooting death of Manchester Officer Michael Briggs. If convicted, Addison could face the death penalty.

Addison's lawyers have filed dozens of motions challenging the state's death penalty law and other judicial processes and practices.

McGuire has rejected several so far; several more are still pending.


CONCORD, N.H. -- Death penalty opponents are pushing for a legislative study commission that they hope will help them abolish capital punishment in New Hampshire.

Portsmouth Rep. Jim Splaine, who has sponsored many bills to abolish capital punishment, said he does not expect success next year. But he said a commission aimed at a comprehensive study of capital punishment may provide a better vehicle for persuading lawmakers to support a repeal.

The move comes as the state prepares for two capital murder trials.

Barbara Keshen of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union said the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is pushing for the study commission in 2009. She said a commission would be important because no one has analyzed the emotional toll on victims, families and lawyers involved in death penalty cases, not to mention the time spent by courts.

She said the group also is working to recruit new members.

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