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Will New Hampshire end capital punishment?

Three years ago, New Hampshire legislators expanded our state’s death penalty. A couple of days ago, they voted to do away with capital punishment here -- with one exception.

The House Committee on Criminal Justice voted Tuesday to do away with the death penalty in all future murder convictions. The new bill’s repeal would include the crime of homicide during a home invasion, added to the death penalty statute three years ago. 

New Hampshire has just one person on death row; a man convicted of killing a police officer. Because the new law is not retroactive, his sentence would not be changed if the bill is passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.

The state’s Police Chief’s Association opposes the bill.

The proposal’s Hampton sponsor said he was pleased with the committee’s vote, but noted that “we still have a ways to go” before his proposal becomes law.

A Merrimack representative said he has changed his mind on the issue, now favoring death penalty repeal.

He said he had been swayed by his faith and by information he had been given by capital punishment opponents.

Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she will sign the bill if it passes remaining legislative hurdles. She said she would not sign a bill that would repeal the sentence of the man convicted of slaying the Manchester police officer.

New Hampshire has not taken the ultimate step in punishment since the 1930s.

Though the severest penalty of all might be repealed, anyone facing the possibility of life in prison will want to have on their side in the legal process an experienced, effective criminal defense attorney.

Source: WMUR, "House committee endorses death penalty repeal," Josh McElveen, Feb. 11, 2014

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