Lawmaker zeroes in on death penalty

Last modified: 1/2/2012 12:00:00 AM
When state Rep. Phil Greazzo proposed expanding the death penalty to include any intentional murder, he said the law should equally protect all people.

Greazzo, a Republican from Manchester, said the state's capital murder statute is unfair in applying to the murder of certain people, such as law enforcement officers, but not others.

When the state House of Representatives meets this week, he said he intends to show his commitment to eliminating that distinction. Despite a committee vote supporting his bill, Greazzo plans to propose an alternate measure that would repeal the death penalty in full.

The lawmaker, who is contemplating a run for state Senate, said in an interview he still wants to expand the capital murder statute. But he said he sees such inconsistency in the current law that, without assurance his bill would become law, he would sooner have lawmakers eliminate the death penalty altogether than maintain the status quo.

'If I hire someone to commit a murder for me, that would bring the death penalty,' he said. 'If I did it myself, there's no death penalty. So the law is a little bit askew in fairness.'

Under current state law, crimes eligible for the death penalty include the murder of law enforcement or judicial officers on the job, murders involving certain drug crimes, murder-for-hire, murder during life imprisonment and murder during a rape, kidnapping or burglary. The final category was added last year in response to the murder during a home invasion of Mont Vernon resident Kimberly Cates.

Greazzo said the distinctions created by the law are inconsistent with the constitutional requirement that laws apply to all citizens. If he had his choice, the capital murder statute would apply to all intentional murders.

'I think in the interest of equality and justice, anybody who commits a murder should forfeit their life,' Greazzo said. 'They don't deserve to live.'

He said that while he believes his original proposal would pass the House and Senate, he expects it would be vetoed by Gov. John Lynch.

Proposing both the expansion and elimination of the death penalty would allow lawmakers to consider a full range of possibilities for changing the current law, he said.

'Why not just have the argument once?' Greazzo said. 'It's sort of a waste of time to have the conversation for years. The issue is pretty cut-and-dry.'

In October, a House committee recommended 11-6 to expand the capital murder law to include all purposeful killings. Such a change would make many crimes that are now first-degree murders eligible for the death penalty.

The House is scheduled to take up bills from 2011 on Wednesday and Thursday.

(Karen Langley can be reached at 369-3316 or

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2019 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy