After two hours of often emotional debate, the New Hampshire House overwhelmingly passed a measure to repeal the death penalty yesterday after rejecting an amendment that would have spared the life of the state's only convict on death row, the Associated Press reports. The House voted 225-104 in favor of repeal. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where its fate is uncertain. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she supports repeal as long as it is does not upset the death sentence of Michael Addison, who was convicted of killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006.
Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican, argued for an amendment to spare Addison's life by applying repeal to anyone already sentenced to death. He said those who vote for repeal without including Addison aren't really abolishing the death penalty. ''You just want to score a cheap political victory,'' Vaillancourt said. ''We sell our souls if we don't pass this amendment.” The amendment failed, 245-85. Democrat Marry Jane Wallner argued for repeal, saying, ''One death penalty case will probably cost the state upwards of $8 to $10 million dollars.' The New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld his death sentence, but must weigh whether it is fair compared with sentences in dozens of other cases in which a police officer was killed. It was the first time the court reviewed a death penalty half a century. The state's last execution was in 1939.