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. court to rule on death penalty in cop killing

CONCORD, N.H. — For the first time in more than a half-century, New Hampshire’s Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty and whether the death sentence of a man convicted of killing a police officer will stand.

The court will release its ruling Wednesday in the appeal of Michael Addison, who was sentenced to death in 2008 for gunning down Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs two years earlier as the officer was trying to arrest him in connection with a string of violent robberies. Addison is the only inmate on New Hampshire’s death row.

Continue reading below

Besides the issues Addison’s lawyers raised on appeal a year ago, the court will also review the fairness of his death sentence — comparing it to cases in other states in which a police officer was killed in the line of duty.

If the court vacates Addison’s death sentence, prosecutors would be barred from seeking the death penalty again. If it upholds the death sentence, Addison could become the first person executed in New Hampshire since 1939.

Addison’s lawyer, David Rothstein, argued that holding the trial in Manchester — in a courthouse 100 yards from police headquarters — injected passion and prejudice into the case.

Prosecutors countered that both sides worked to guarantee a fair trial and that jurors certified their verdict was not influenced by arbitrary factors.

The ruling comes as the New Hampshire Coalition Against the Death Penalty is launching a new campaign to repeal the death penalty. Governor Maggie Hassan has said she would sign a repeal bill if it did not invalidate Addison’s sentence.

Briggs, 35, 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 also convicted of a violent rampage in the days leading up to the death, including two armed robberies and a drive-by shooting.

Loading comments...

Wake up with today's top stories.

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