AP NEWS

Widow of slain officer speaks against death penalty repeal

March 26, 2019

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The widow of a slain Manchester police officer spoke against repealing New Hampshire’s death penalty Thursday in part because her son is now working in law enforcement.

Laura Briggs has largely stayed out of the public debate over capital murder since her husband, Officer Michael Briggs, was shot to death in 2006. But she told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday he would have opposed a repeal bill that passed the House earlier this month.

“Mike was a good person. He went to work, he was a good dad. He wasn’t perfect. Nobody is, but he was definitely a genuinely good person. He wasn’t the kind of person you’d speak for, but I’m going to speak for him today because I know he was for the death penalty,” she said. “Now that my son is working in law enforcement, I would like to know that if anything happened to him, he would get fair justice.”

New Hampshire’s death penalty applies in only seven scenarios: the killing of an on-duty law enforcement officer or judge, murder for hire, murder during a rape, certain drug offenses or home invasion and murder by someone already serving a life sentence without parole. The state hasn’t executed anyone since 1939, and the repeal bill would not apply retroactively to Michael Addison, who killed Briggs and is the state’s only inmate on death row.

Laura Briggs and other death penalty supporters argued that courts might interpret it differently, however, giving Addison a chance at life in prison.

“The death penalty is about protecting society from evil. It’s not about an eye-for-an-eye or revenge. It’s about protecting our society from evil people that do evil things,” she said.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed an identical bill last year, but both the House and Senate now appear to have veto-proof majorities in favor of repeal.

Rep. Renny Cushing, the bill’s main sponsor, urged senators to think about all the people who have been wrongly sentenced to death, as well as those who have lost loved ones. Cushing’s father and brother-in-law were both murdered.

“I’m one of a number of people who have had the unspeakable happen to them, had their loved ones ripped away from them, who have come to conclude at the end of the day that a ritual killing by a state of the person who killed our loved one does nothing to honor the lives that have been lost,” said Cushing, D-Hampton. “It does nothing to do the one thing we all want and that is to have our loved one come back.”

He added, “It just fills another coffin and expands the circle of grief and in a way that replicates the kind of behavior that brought us pain to begin with.”