New Hampshire Justice

Monday morning, I woke to the sound of a helicopter over Manchester. It was rather persistent, so I got up to see what was going on.

It turned out that around quarter to three in the morning, a Manchester police officer was on bicycle patrol when he confronted a suspect less than half a mile from my home. The suspect turned and fired his gun, and Officer Michael Briggs fell, wounded in the head.

The manhunt was sudden, intense, and all-encompassing. Police officers conducted a door-to-door search for hours. The helicopter was from the New Hampshire State Police, keeping an eye from above. One suspect was arrested at the scene, but the second — the one believed to have shot Officer Briggs — escaped.

But not for long.

The suspect — Michael K. “Stix” Addison — fled the city and the state, running home to Mommy in Dorchester, Massachusetts. There, he made a few too many calls on his cell phone, and police soon located him. He was arrested without incident, and is currently fighting extradition back here to New Hampshire.

Addison has an interesting background. At 17, he stabbed and nearly killed another boy for his hat. He also tried to shoot some other people once (he pulled the trigger on a revolver twice, but neither of the two rounds in it came up to the hammer), and he has several other convictions on his fairly lengthy rap sheet. He was also well known to Officer Briggs, as well as several other police departments.

Officer Michael Briggs, 35, a Marine Corps veteran and decorated cop, fought for his life for over 24 hours, but died Tuesday. He left behind a wife and two sons.

In 2004, Briggs was one of four Manchester police officers presented with the New Hampshire Hero Award. The officers rushed into a burning apartment building and saved 19 people, including one in a wheelchair.

New Hampshire’s Attorney General, Kelly Ayotte, reacted quickly. She initially filed attempted murder charges against Addison. (Ayotte came to prominence first as the first state Attorney General to take maternity leave, then later for arguing New Hampshire’s parental-notification law regarding teenagers obtaining abortions before the Supreme Court.) But after Officer Briggs died, she upgraded the charges to Capital Murder — making Addison, should he be convicted, eligible for the death penalty.

New Hampshire hasn’t executed a criminal since 1939, but we still have the law — and we’re still ready to use it. The murder of a police officer is specifically cited as grounds for execution. And if the prisoner declines lethal injection, that’s fine with us — the alternative is hanging.

Ironically, the last time a police officer was murdered was in 1997, and the killer was brought up on capital murder charges. He arranged a plea bargain, however, and was spared the needle. He’s currently serving life without the possibility of parole. The ironic element is that Officer Briggs was, at that point, a part-time officer in Epsom, where the slain officer worked, and was a pall bearer at Officer Jeremy Charron’s funeral.

“Stix” Addison is currently fighting extradition back to New Hampshire from Massachusetts. I often mock the Bay State, with its astonishingly horrid politics and bizarre sense of justice, but I have little doubt that in this case he will be returned to face justice.

And in New Hampshire, “justice” means something. Should Mr. Addison be convicted, I am quite convinced that us folks here in the “sticks” will make sure that “Stix” will remain behind bars right up until he crosses the river Styx — one way or another.

New Hampshire’s only statewide paper has done yeoman’s work on this story:
Death Penalty Sought
Officer gunned down on city street
Addison has violent past
Addison’s Family had high hopes for him
Police: Six-day crime spree led up to fatal shooting
Death penalty law specifically applies to killing police

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  1. Mark October 18, 2006
  2. OregonMuse October 18, 2006
  3. mp October 18, 2006
  4. Matt October 18, 2006
  5. spurwing plover October 18, 2006
  6. D.J. Jones October 18, 2006
  7. Pete October 18, 2006
  8. Christopher King November 1, 2006