MANCHESTER, NH (CBS) – Six years after Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs was shot and killed while on patrol, the accused killer, Michael Addison, goes before New Hampshire’s Supreme Court Wednesday in a rare all day hearing where his defense attorneys will ask the justices to throw out the death penalty conviction.
It will be the first time in some seven decades the state’s Supreme Court will debate a case involving capital punishment.
“This may well be the most significant criminal case ever argued at the New Hampshire Supreme Court,” said Chuck Temple, Director of the Criminal Practice Clinic at the University of New Hampshire Law School. “It doesn’t get any more important than this, it doesn’t get any more grave than this.”
The hearing will bring to the forefront the controversial issue of capital punishment.
The New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will hold vigils outside court Wednesday.
“You know life in prison there’s always the opportunity if there is an error to correct it,” said Barbara Keshen. “If you put someone to death and you find out that it was flawed, then how do you make reparations”?
Court documents obtained by WBZ-TV reveal the defense’s arguments, citing everything from improper jury instructions to the death penalty being unconstitutional.
“I would say yes, there are issues that the court is going to look at very closely because they want to ensure this was a constitutionally proper process from beginning to end,” said Temple.
Manchester Police Captain Nick Willard, the lead investigator on the case, says the appeals process needs to be respected no matter what the ultimate decision will be.
Willard says six years after the stunning crime, the impact remains on the police department.
“The effects of it are still lasting, the officers that were on the job at the time the murder happened still wear officer Michael Briggs’ pins on their uniforms,” said Willard.