CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire's highest court is expected to rule on whether the state's only death row convict should be executed for killing a Manchester police officer in 2006.
If the state Supreme Court on Wednesday vacates the death sentence of Michael Addison on constitutional grounds, prosecutors would be barred from again seeking capital punishment. If it upholds the death sentence, Addison could be the first killer executed in New Hampshire since 1939.
Addison, now 33, was sentenced to death in 2008 for gunning down Officer Michael Briggs as he attempted to arrest him after a violent rampage of robberies and drive-by shootings.
When it heard daylong arguments a year ago, it was the first time in half a century the state's highest court examined the death penalty.
Defense lawyer David Rothstein argued that holding the trial in Manchester biased the jury because the court was so close to the police station where Briggs worked. Prosecutors countered that both sides worked to guarantee Addison a fair trial and that jurors certified their verdict was not influenced by arbitrary factors.
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.
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.