Bill would require convicts to attend sentencing
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A state lawmaker wants to require violent offenders to attend their sentencing hearings following a dispute that arose in the case of a man convicted of raping and killing a 19-year-old college student.
Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat whose father and brother-in-law were slain, said Tuesday he was outraged when 31-year-old Seth Mazzaglia wanted to skip his sentencing for first-degree murder in the death of Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott, of Westborough, Massachusetts.
“I never want to see another situation where the victims have to go through such hoops to make sure the person who’s responsible for so much pain and violence would have to sit through the impact their crime had,” said Cushing, who said he and Sen. Donna Soucy of Concord will introduce legislation to mandate convicts’ presence at sentencing.
During a hearing on Mazzaglia’s request, prosecutors read a transcript of a recorded jail conversation between Mazzaglia and his mother on Aug. 6 in which he says he doesn’t want to listen to Marriott’s family “whine and bitch and moan about how I’m a monster.” He also said the sentencing hearing was a waste of his time.
Mazzaglia later withdrew his motion right before he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Cushing said New Hampshire law is ambiguous about whether offenders can opt out of their sentencing hearings and that he was “blown away” by Mazzaglia’s request.
“It never occurred to me that an offender would not be present in the courtroom during the time of victim impact statements and sentencing,” Cushing said. “I remember how important it was for me to give that statement.”
In filing the motion to waive Mazzaglia’s attendance at sentencing, his lawyers told the court he was asserting his constitutional right. Prosecutors countered that there is no case law establishing such a right. The New Jersey Supreme Court last year upheld lower court rulings compelling a defendant’s presence at sentencing.
More than a dozen Marriott family members and friends addressed the court during Mazzaglia’s sentencing. He showed no sign of emotion.
Mazzaglia is appealing his conviction.
Randy Hawkes, executive director of the New Hampshire public defender system, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Cushing’s proposal.