Monthly Archives: May 2018

Murder Victim Family Press Conference


Watch the recorded Facebook Livestream here.
Watch the YouTube Video here.
Listen to the mp3 audio file here


56,502 signatures for repeal

Murder victim family members from New Hampshire held a press conference in Concord today, before delivering over 50,000 petition signatures* to Gov. Sununu, urging him to pass SB 593, the death penalty repeal bill, into law.

Those speaking today included family members of people killed during the 9/11 tragedy. Andrea LeBlanc, who lost her husband in the second plane to hit the World Trade Center, said, “my pain and loss could not be removed or remedied through vengeance or by acts of retaliation,” before urging the Governor to sign death penalty repeal legislation currently en route to his desk.

Margaret Hawthorn delivers signatures to Governor’s Office

Representative Robert “Renny” Cushing (D-Hampton), who lost his father and brother-in-law to murder, said, “Executing those who kill does not do the one thing we want most – to bring back our loved ones.”  Cushing expressed disappointment that Gov. Sununu has thus far failed to meet in person with any of the murder victim family members who have approached his office.

Margaret Hawthorn, whose daughter was shot and killed at her home in Henniker in 2010, said, “For me, the best possible outcome would be to see the man who killed my daughter make a positive contribution with the life he is now to live in prison. To see him do something constructive would be to give me back a tiny piece of the goodness that lived in my daughter. There is no promise this will happen, but an execution would guarantee it couldn’t.”

Gov. Sununu has promised to veto SB 593, citing his support for murder victim family members  as one of his major reasons. Victim family members at the press conference, with whom Gov. Sununu has declined to meet, challenged him to consider their viewpoints. Some questioned the utility of spending millions of dollars on a single death penalty case, claiming that the critical needs of victim families, such as grief counseling and restitution of lost wages, remain unaddressed.

Rep. Cushing, who helped organize the press conference, has led death penalty repeal efforts in the NH House for nearly two decades. The current repeal bill, SB 593, recently passed both houses of the NH Legislature with broad bipartisan support. The bill proposes replacing the death penalty with the sentence of life in prison without parole for the crimes that fall under the capital murder statute. If signed, the law would apply only for crimes taking place after the bill’s passage.

When later asked about Gov. Sununu’s promise to veto SB 593, Rep. Cushing said, “Gov. Sununu should respect the will of our state’s duly elected legislators, including many members of his own party, who have spoken loudly and clearly that New Hampshire can live without the death penalty.” In the event of a veto, Cushing said that death penalty repeal advocates would work to secure enough votes to override the veto.

News coverage of the event:
  • Union Leader
  • Concord Monitor [Please note that the Monitor Implies that Gov. Sununu responded to our requests to meet, despite our claims that he did not. Let’s be clear:  we specifically asked to meet personally with the Governor, and he (through his staff) declined multiple times.]
Related Concord Monitor article from 5/23:


* Our gratitude and kudos go out to our fabulous national partners for developing the petition and delivering 56,502 signatures to support our efforts in NH: Equal Justice USA, Daily Kos, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, Death Penalty Focus, and Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. 


Law Enforcement Press Conference Addresses Gov. Sununu

[Audio & Video links below]

This morning, former Law Enforcement and Corrections officials in New Hampshire spoke out in favor of repealing the death penalty during a press conference in the Legislative Office Building in Concord.  Those speaking were: Representative Richard O’Leary, 33-year veteran of the Manchester Police Department; Bill McGonagle, former Assistant Commissioner for the NH Department of Corrections; and Paul Lutz, former Lieutenant with the Derry Police Department.  (Click on their names above to read their individual comments, or click here for all comments, including by those who were not present: Law-Corrections Presser Statements (PDF).)

The speakers directed their comments to Gov. Chris Sununu, who has vowed to veto the death penalty repeal bill. Sununu has cited his support for law enforcement as reason for his opposition, but has resisted meeting directly with any members of our group.

The primary arguments heard today were pithy and powerful. Boiled down, these were: 1) there is no evidence for its deterrent effect and so it does not protect law enforcement; 2) life in prison without parole is a harsh punishment and is all that is necessary; 3) the death penalty is costly – over $5.5 million spent on a single death row inmate to date – and that money could be better used both to support law enforcement and enhance public safety in a number of ways.

We had fairly good coverage by the press:

  • WMUR (1:45 video — also picked up by MSN News)
  • Union Leader – not very comprehensive, and wrongly attributed a live statement by John Breckinridge (he did write a statement, but was not on hand)
  • Associated Press (via NY Times, and picked up in various other places, such as Concord Monitor, US News and World Report, Seacoastonline, among others)
  • NHPR

Audio of the full press conference (about 26 minutes) can be heard here:

Watch the full video here:

(All photos courtesy of Arnie Alpert and Jeanne Hruska).