Top NH Court Upholds Death Sentence for Lone Death Row Inmate

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The Supreme Court will next schedule arguments on its fairness review — weighing Addison’s sentence against those meted out in 49 cases around the country between 2000 and 2009 in which a police officer was shot in the line of duty.

Addison’s lawyers objected to the scope of the comparison, saying it ignores the only other New Hampshire capital case in recent history. That case involved a wealthy white man — John Brooks — who plotted and paid for the killing of a handyman he thought had stolen from him. Brooks was spared a death sentence in 2008 — the same year Addison was sentenced to die.

Addison’s lawyers — Rothstein and Richard Guerriero — issued a brief statement saying they disagree with the court’s ruling and look forward to addressing the fairness of his sentence.

Attorney General Joseph Foster said the magnitude of the court’s 243-page ruling is appropriate given the magnitude of the loss suffered by the Briggs’ family. He did not comment on the ruling itself, noting that aspects of the case remain pending.

Briggs was 15 minutes from the end of his shift on Oct. 16, 2006, when he and his partner — both on bicycle patrol — confronted Addison in a dark alley. Jurors found that Addison shot Briggs in the head at close range to avoid arrest.

Addison was later convicted of going on a violent rampage in the days before Briggs’ death, including two armed robberies and a drive-by shooting.

Because it was the first death penalty appeal in decades, the justices had to first determine the pool of cases to compare with Addison’s to determine whether his sentence was influenced by race or other factors. Addison is black; Briggs was white.

The last person executed in New Hampshire was Howard Long, an Alton shopkeeper who molested and beat a 10-year-old boy to death. He was hanged — still a viable form of execution in New Hampshire if lethal injection is not possible.

(Photo: AP)

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