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N.H. Senate Votes to Keep Death Penalty

Deadlock Tally Means Issue Could Be Brought Back Up

  • Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican, keeps tally of her colleagues' votes on her Senate calendar during the final vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. After failing to gather enough support for a repeal, as well as attempts to amend and reject the bill, the senators voted to table the bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican, keeps tally of her colleagues' votes on her Senate calendar during the final vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. After failing to gather enough support for a repeal, as well as attempts to amend and reject the bill, the senators voted to table the bill.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican, speaks on the Senate floor in opposition to the death penalty repeal bill, before the vote on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill yesterday that passed the House. In the gallery above him (from left) are Manchester police Assistant Chief Nick Willard and Chief David Mara, as well as Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat who sponsored the bill. The state's only death row inmate is Michael Addison, who was convicted in the 2006 murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. Cushing, whose father and brother-in-law were murdered in separate crimes, has been sponsoring repeal bills for nearly two decades. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican, speaks on the Senate floor in opposition to the death penalty repeal bill, before the vote on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill yesterday that passed the House. In the gallery above him (from left) are Manchester police Assistant Chief Nick Willard and Chief David Mara, as well as Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat who sponsored the bill. The state's only death row inmate is Michael Addison, who was convicted in the 2006 murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. Cushing, whose father and brother-in-law were murdered in separate crimes, has been sponsoring repeal bills for nearly two decades.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Sharon Parker of Enfield talks with other opponents of the death penalty who filled the halls outside  the Senate chambers on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Sharon Parker of Enfield talks with other opponents of the death penalty who filled the halls outside the Senate chambers on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Opponents of the death penalty fill the halls outside the Senate chambers at the State House on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Opponents of the death penalty fill the halls outside the Senate chambers at the State House on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Bette Lasky, a Nashua Democrat, talks about the Senate Judiciary Committee's recommendation to pass the death penalty repeal bill during the Senate session at the State House on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. They voted 12-12 against the repeal bill that passed the House. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Bette Lasky, a Nashua Democrat, talks about the Senate Judiciary Committee's recommendation to pass the death penalty repeal bill during the Senate session at the State House on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. They voted 12-12 against the repeal bill that passed the House.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Peggy Gilmour, a Democrat from Hollis, talks with Sen. Molly Kelly, a Democrat from Keene, during a recess in the Senate chamber on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Gilmour, Kelly and other Democrats voted in favor of the death penalty repeal bill, with the exception of Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester. The final count was 12-12 against a repeal bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Peggy Gilmour, a Democrat from Hollis, talks with Sen. Molly Kelly, a Democrat from Keene, during a recess in the Senate chamber on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Gilmour, Kelly and other Democrats voted in favor of the death penalty repeal bill, with the exception of Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester. The final count was 12-12 against a repeal bill.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a Democrat from Dalton, speaks with other Democratic senators during a recess in the Senate chamber on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Woodburn and other Democrats voted in favor of the death penalty repeal bill, with the exception of Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester. The final count was 12-12 against a repeal bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a Democrat from Dalton, speaks with other Democratic senators during a recess in the Senate chamber on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Woodburn and other Democrats voted in favor of the death penalty repeal bill, with the exception of Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester. The final count was 12-12 against a repeal bill.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Manchester Police Department Assistant Chief Nick Willard (left) stands with Chief David Mara while listening to debate about the death penalty repeal bill in the Senate gallery on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The state's only person on death row is Michael Addison, who was convicted in the murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Manchester Police Department Assistant Chief Nick Willard (left) stands with Chief David Mara while listening to debate about the death penalty repeal bill in the Senate gallery on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The state's only person on death row is Michael Addison, who was convicted in the murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Bob Odell, a New London Republican, speaks on the Senate floor before a vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. Odell was one of two Republicans to vote in favor of the repeal. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Bob Odell, a New London Republican, speaks on the Senate floor before a vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. Odell was one of two Republicans to vote in favor of the repeal.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Bob Odell (left), a New London Republican, talks with Sen. Jeb Bradley on the Senate floor before a vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. Odell was one of two Republicans to vote in favor of the repeal. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Bob Odell (left), a New London Republican, talks with Sen. Jeb Bradley on the Senate floor before a vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. Odell was one of two Republicans to vote in favor of the repeal.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Claire Hongenauer, a death penalty opponent who traveled from New York City, rides the State House elevator down with her sign after the Senate voted on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. "I don't think there will be an execution here," she said, despite the vote's ambiguous repercussions. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Claire Hongenauer, a death penalty opponent who traveled from New York City, rides the State House elevator down with her sign after the Senate voted on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. "I don't think there will be an execution here," she said, despite the vote's ambiguous repercussions.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bishop Robert Hirschfeld of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire listens from the Senate gallery during the vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. Many members of the faith community showed up to support the repeal bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bishop Robert Hirschfeld of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire listens from the Senate gallery during the vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. Many members of the faith community showed up to support the repeal bill.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a Manchester Democrat, listens to debate on the Senate floor regarding the death penalty repeal on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. D'Allesandro was the only Senate Democrat to not vote in favor of the repeal. The bill was rejected with a vote of 12-12. The state's only death row inmate is Michael Addision, who was convicted in the 2006 murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. D'Allesandro wears Briggs's badge number every day. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a Manchester Democrat, listens to debate on the Senate floor regarding the death penalty repeal on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. D'Allesandro was the only Senate Democrat to not vote in favor of the repeal. The bill was rejected with a vote of 12-12. The state's only death row inmate is Michael Addision, who was convicted in the 2006 murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. D'Allesandro wears Briggs's badge number every day.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Arnie Alpert, the spokesman for New Hampshire Coalition Against the Death Penalty, speaks with the media following the Senate vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Arnie Alpert, the spokesman for New Hampshire Coalition Against the Death Penalty, speaks with the media following the Senate vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican, keeps tally of her colleagues' votes on her Senate calendar during the final vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. After failing to gather enough support for a repeal, as well as attempts to amend and reject the bill, the senators voted to table the bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican, speaks on the Senate floor in opposition to the death penalty repeal bill, before the vote on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill yesterday that passed the House. In the gallery above him (from left) are Manchester police Assistant Chief Nick Willard and Chief David Mara, as well as Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat who sponsored the bill. The state's only death row inmate is Michael Addison, who was convicted in the 2006 murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. Cushing, whose father and brother-in-law were murdered in separate crimes, has been sponsoring repeal bills for nearly two decades. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Sharon Parker of Enfield talks with other opponents of the death penalty who filled the halls outside  the Senate chambers on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Opponents of the death penalty fill the halls outside the Senate chambers at the State House on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Sen. Bette Lasky, a Nashua Democrat, talks about the Senate Judiciary Committee's recommendation to pass the death penalty repeal bill during the Senate session at the State House on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. They voted 12-12 against the repeal bill that passed the House. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Sen. Peggy Gilmour, a Democrat from Hollis, talks with Sen. Molly Kelly, a Democrat from Keene, during a recess in the Senate chamber on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Gilmour, Kelly and other Democrats voted in favor of the death penalty repeal bill, with the exception of Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester. The final count was 12-12 against a repeal bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a Democrat from Dalton, speaks with other Democratic senators during a recess in the Senate chamber on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Woodburn and other Democrats voted in favor of the death penalty repeal bill, with the exception of Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester. The final count was 12-12 against a repeal bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Manchester Police Department Assistant Chief Nick Willard (left) stands with Chief David Mara while listening to debate about the death penalty repeal bill in the Senate gallery on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The state's only person on death row is Michael Addison, who was convicted in the murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Sen. Bob Odell, a New London Republican, speaks on the Senate floor before a vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. Odell was one of two Republicans to vote in favor of the repeal. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Sen. Bob Odell (left), a New London Republican, talks with Sen. Jeb Bradley on the Senate floor before a vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. Odell was one of two Republicans to vote in favor of the repeal. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Claire Hongenauer, a death penalty opponent who traveled from New York City, rides the State House elevator down with her sign after the Senate voted on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. "I don't think there will be an execution here," she said, despite the vote's ambiguous repercussions. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Bishop Robert Hirschfeld of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire listens from the Senate gallery during the vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. Many members of the faith community showed up to support the repeal bill. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a Manchester Democrat, listens to debate on the Senate floor regarding the death penalty repeal on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. D'Allesandro was the only Senate Democrat to not vote in favor of the repeal. The bill was rejected with a vote of 12-12. The state's only death row inmate is Michael Addision, who was convicted in the 2006 murder of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. D'Allesandro wears Briggs's badge number every day. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Arnie Alpert, the spokesman for New Hampshire Coalition Against the Death Penalty, speaks with the media following the Senate vote on the death penalty repeal bill on Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. The Senate voted 12-12 against a repeal bill that passed the House. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Concord — A divided New Hampshire Senate voted against repealing the death penalty yesterday, ending concerns for some who worried that a repeal would reverse the death sentence of Michael Addison, who was convicted for fatally shooting Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006.

“I think it’s incumbent on all of us to think and to search our souls about what this means. ... I don’t think repealing the death penalty is going to do what we want,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, who each day wears a pin bearing the badge number of Briggs.

The Senate split 12-12 yesterday. Unable to break a tie, senators voted unanimously to lay the bill on the table, meaning it could come back later this session, although that’s unlikely. Supporters of repeal may continue to lobby individual senators to change their positions.

Among lawmakers representing the Upper Valley, state Sens. Bob Odell, R-New London and David Pierce, D-Lebanon, voted in favor of repeal, while state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, was opposed.

State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, was the lone Democrat to back the death penalty; state Sen. Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, was the other Republican who joined Odell in voting for repeal.

Repeal supporters saw a new window of opportunity this year when Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan said she would sign a repeal bill, and when the House passed the legislation.

Former governor Jeanne Shaheen vetoed a repeal bill in 2000 and in 2011 then-Gov. John Lynch signed a bill expanding the death penalty to include murder during home invasions.

“I thank the Legislature for their open, fair and compassionate consideration of this sensitive issue,” Hassan said in a statement after the vote. “I know that each senator listened to all viewpoints and made a difficult decision.”

Addison, convicted in the 2006 murder of Briggs, is the state’s only death row inmate. The bill’s authors intended it to be prospective, as are all bills that change criminal law, so that it wouldn’t have changed Addison’s sentence.

But U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who prosecuted Addison as attorney general, recently said it was “absurd” to think that repealing the death penalty wouldn’t affect his case. The state Supreme Court upheld Addison’s conviction late last year but has yet to rule on whether his sentence is fair.

No other states that have repealed the death penalty in recent years have since executed anyone on death row. Sen. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, introduced an amendment specifically saying the bill wouldn’t affect anyone sentenced before July 1 of this year, but that amendment failed 14-10.

During yesterday’s floor debate, several senators supportive of repeal shared the personal reasons for their votes. Beyond weighing their morals, they said the death penalty carries the risk of ending an innocent person’s life and that it has not been shown to deter crime. New Hampshire is the only New England state that still has the death penalty.

“Vengeance is a raw human emotion, but in the end, is it the most effective way to deal with the violence in our society?” Lasky asked. “Let our legacy in this chamber today be one of enlightenment, not death and darkness.”

Sen. David Pierce, D-Lebanon, said he supported the death penalty for many years until he was asked to write a brief justifying a man’s death sentence as a Pennsylvania law clerk in the 1990s.

“I was three people removed from actually pushing that needle myself,” he said. “That forever changed my idea of the death penalty and it continued to weigh on my conscience.”

Sen. Bob Odell, R-New London, was the only Republican aside from bill sponsor Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, to vote in favor of repeal. A longtime supporter of the death penalty, he said he changed his mind because he doesn’t know how he would explain to his grandchildren that the state executed someone.

Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, spoke at length about her own personal journey toward supporting repeal. She said she first came to believe the death penalty was wrong after writing a paper on it while attending Saint Anselm College. But thinking about Briggs’s murder caused her to struggle with her decision. Ultimately, she chose to vote for repeal but supported the amendment meant to ensure Addison’s sentence would stay.

“I went to the Manchester Police Department and I went there with an open mind. I left that meeting with those police officers shaken to my core,” she said. “I am struggling and have struggled with this decision like nothing else.”

Opponents, however, have argued the death penalty should stay on the books because the state’s statute is narrow and some crimes are so heinous that death is the appropriate sentence. The following types of capital murder can carry a death sentence in New Hampshire: murder of a law enforcement or judicial officer; murder during a burglary, sexual assault, drug deal or kidnapping; murder for hire; and murder while serving a life sentence in prison. New Hampshire last executed someone in 1939, and is unlike states such as Texas that frequently place people on death row.

“I don’t believe, in our case in New Hampshire, there’s a question about innocent people being killed,” said Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro. “For that reason, (and) because I believe there are some crimes that are that heinous, I support the death penalty.”

Bradley and D’Allesandro were the only repeal opponents who stood up on the floor to share their views. Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, who voted against repeal, thanked everyone who shared their opinions with him during his personal deliberation and said he had come to peace with his decision.

After the vote, several repeal advocates released statements expressing disappointment about the Senate’s vote. Many of them had been gathered outside the State House and Senate chambers before the vote, holding signs and wearing badges urging senators to repeal the death penalty. Reporters from national media outlets also showed up to cover the vote.

“The world is watching New Hampshire,” Arnie Alpert, spokesman for the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said before the vote.

Several former New Hampshire attorneys general and leaders of different faiths have been actively working in support of repeal. For religious groups, the vote being held this week had even more significance given that it fell the day before Good Friday. In addition to state groups, people from Amnesty International and the World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty also visited the state to speak with lawmakers.