Friday, October 9, 2009

Death Penalty Push in New Hampshire

From today's Nashua (NH) Telegraph:

Murder pushes death penalty to fore

The random, shocking murder of Kimberly Cates in Mont Vernon already has some lawmakers working on a renewed push to expand the state’s death penalty.

Rep. Bill O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, said he intends to propose legislation in early 2010 to have capital punishment apply to certain, heinous murders beyond ones the state law covers.

“I am sensitive to the argument of the other side about brutalizing society, but I think there are killings right now that call for the death penalty where that ultimate punishment is not an option,” said O’Brien whose House district also includes Lyndeborough, Wilton, Temple and New Boston.

The New Hampshire death penalty currently applies in the premeditated murder of a police officer, judge or court officer or for any victim when the act occurs in a prison or includes kidnapping, murder for hire, rape or major drug deal.

O’Brien said he’ll wait a few months before fine turning his proposal.

“You can’t say you surely would have prevented this, but there are some murders in which society should be able to say to a would-be offender that if you consider taking a life that way, you could forfeit your own,” O’Brien said.

Death penalty opponent Rep. Robert Cushing, D-Hampton, heads Cambridge, Mass., group Murder Victims Families for Human Rights. Cushing's father was shot to death in [1988] by an off-duty police officer.

“The death penalty will not bring that poor woman back, and it would not have prevented the murder from taking place,” Cushing said.

The slaying of Cates and the serious wounds inflicted on 11-year-old Jaimie Cates is of an inexplicable nature that has many in the public seeking to bring more punishment to bear on the actors, Cushing said.

“There are certain emblematic murders that take place that touch everyone’s heart and in this case reverberate far beyond Mont Vernon,” Cushing said. “People in small towns all over America wake up, learn of this and are traumatized by it, too.

“At times like these, we try to apply rational thought to an irrational world. There are still some things about my dad’s death that I can’t to this day get my mind around like what was going through the killer’s mind when he did this.”

The state has not executed anyone since 1939.

Read the rest of the article.

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