Michael Briggs, the Manchester Police officer shot in the line of duty in 2006, and his killer, Michael Addison, who now sits on death row, both loomed large in the debate.
An indication of how large could be seen in the front row of the senate gallery.
That’s where Manchester police officials, including the chief and he lead investigator of the Briggs muder stood in full uniform the whole time. 15 feet down in the senate floor Michael Briggs name came up almost immediately – by people on both sides of the issue.
The 3-2 margin came two days after an initial vote ended in a tie
The revote was requested by Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester).
Soucy's district was where N.H.’s lone death row inmate, Michael Addison, committed the crime that persuaded a jury to sentence him to death -- the 2006 shooting of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs.
Soucy says given that, and the importance of the issue, she didn’t want to give the impression she might have been dodging it.
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice and current UNH Law School Dean, John Broderick told lawmakers that NH is better than countries like Iran, Iraq, North Korea, where the death penalty is used.
Broderick said anyone who's spent time in a prison knows it's a hopeless and demeaning place, and asked lawmakers to consider what it would be like to by laying on a gurney, a lethal injection headed your way, knowing you were innocent.
The legislature is again considering a repeal of the state’s capital punishment statute. While supporters say that their cause has gained momentum over recent years, others argue that the death penalty still plays an important role in state’s justice system.
Former Attorney Generals Phil McLaughlin and Greg Smith both told the House Criminal Justice Committee they’d prosecuted dozens of murders in their careers, and had they’ve come to believe the death penalty is wrong.
McLaughlin said the very rarity of capital punishment in N.H. is an argument for its basic unfairness.
"If punishment supposed to be neither cruel nor unusual, how do you take 1 in a 1000 over 75 years and persuade people that’s not unusual?"
This week, the legislature returns and hears new bills. Up before the Senate judiciary committee are a proposal to establish domestic violence as a separate crime and one requiring certain persons with mental illness to be barred from owning guns and placed on a federal registry. On Thursday, the House holds its first hearing on a bill to repeal the death penalty.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the case of the only man on death row in the state - Michael Addison, who was convicted in 2008 of capital murder for shooting and killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs.
To explain the ruling we turn to Buzz Scherr, law professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. He speaks with All Things Considered host Brady Carlson.