House sends death penalty repeal to governor's desk despite veto threat

  • The New Hampshire House debates a measure to repeal the state's death penalty, April 26, 2018. Ethan DeWitt—Ethan DeWitt

  • Representative Renny Cushing speaks in favor of repealing the death penalty bill at the State House in Concord on Thursday, April 26, 2018. The roll call was 223-116. Governor Chris Sununu has vowed to veto the bill. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Representative Alfred Baldasaro holds up a red handkerchief as he votes against the repeal of the death penalty bill in front of the house on Thursday, April 26, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/26/2018 11:46:28 AM

The New Hampshire House approved a bill to repeal the state’s death penalty Thursday, 223-116, sending the measure to the governor despite his vow to veto it.

The legislation, Senate Bill 593, would strike the words “may be punished by death” from the state’s capital punishment statute, replacing them with “shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility for parole.” New Hampshire is one of 31 states to have the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The measure passed the Senate 14-10 in March, but faces a veto from Gov. Chris Sununu, who said earlier this year that it would send the state “in exactly the wrong direction” and go against the wishes of law enforcement and victims.

In a floor debate ahead of the vote, representatives mulled the moral nuances of the punishment.

Rep. Jeanine Notter, R-Merrimack, invoked the case of New Hampshire’s only death row inmate, Michael Addison, convicted for the 2006 killing of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs.

“What message are we sending our police officers and what we think of their life that we think people should be heroes in jail for being cop killers?” she said.

But others took philosophical issue with the practice of state executions, and cited the costs of keeping people on death row.

“I believe that vengeance has a cost,” said Rep. Carol McGuire, R-Epsom. “And after a certain point it’s not justice it’s vengeance.”

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)

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