You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

N.H. officials discuss the prospect of execution

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire — which last executed an inmate more than 70 years ago, by hanging — would likely carry out an execution in a prison gymnasium rather than construct a costly death chamber for its lone death row prisoner, Corrections Commissioner William Wren said Wednesday.

Addressing a symposium on the death penalty at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, Wren said he and his staff are ‘‘dusting off’’ execution protocols from the 1930s but the $1.8 million needed to build a lethal injection chamber is not in the cards in a state where inmates are so rarely condemned to death.

Continue reading below

The symposium offered a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the case of Michael Addison, sentenced to death in 2008 for gunning down Manchester police officer Michael Briggs following a violent crime spree. If the state’s highest court upholds his conviction and death sentence, Addison could be the first convict executed in New Hampshire since 1939.

Wren said Addison does not really live on ‘‘death row’’ because the state no longer has one. He is housed in the state prison’s maximum security unit.

Panelists made it clear Addison’s case threw a curve at a state criminal justice system that had no modern-day experience with capital litigation.

Attorney Chris Keating, who supervised Addison’s defense, said there was no legal ‘‘infrastructure’’ in place for a death penalty case — no bank of motions built from cases, no expertise, and a dearth of resources to handle the astronomical costs of such a case. He likened it to being told to build a nuclear bomb for the first time.

‘‘The stakes are really high if I get it wrong,’’ he said.

Keating said he and former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte had to approach the Executive Council to fund their case.

Judge Tina Nadeau, chief judge of the superior court, said capital cases magnify all aspects of a trial.

‘‘It’s like due process on steroids,’’ she said.

For instance, the judge who presided over Addison’s case typically issues two or three orders during a murder trial, ­Nadeau said. In ­Addison’s, she filled two binders.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of