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December 18, 2008

Cop killer gets 1st NH death sentence in 49 years

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Convicted cop killer Michael Addison has received the first death sentence in New Hampshire in almost 50 years. Addison, 28, had no reaction as the Hillsborough County Superior Court jury announced its verdict after about 13 hours of deliberation. He was convicted last month of killing a Manchester police officer two years ago.

The judge must formally impose the sentence, but cannot change it.

New Hampshire hasn't executed anyone since 1939 and hasn't sentenced anyone to death since 1959.

In 2004, a federal judge in Massachusetts, which has no death penalty, ordered convicted killer Gary Sampson executed in New Hampshire, but Sampson is appealing. Jurors unanimously agreed that Addison deserves to die for purposely shooting Officer Michael Briggs to avoid being arrested.

Addison's lawyers argued that his abusive childhood and possible brain damage from his mother's heavy drinking while she was pregnant warranted a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Addison had been on a crime spree the week before the shooting and had said he would "pop a cop" if necessary to avoid arrest.

Briggs, 35, and his bicycle patrol partner came across Addison and friend Antoine Bell-Rogers walking in an alley early on Oct. 16, 2006. Briggs recognized the men as a suspects in a recent shooting and two armed robberies and ordered them to stop. Addison turned and shot Briggs in the head at close range, testimony showed.

The defense admitted on the first day of the trial that Addison killed Briggs, but said the act was reckless, not intentional.

"It was fast and it was totally unplanned," defense attorney David Rothstein said in his opening statement. "It was a reckless act that ended in a terrible tragedy."

Prosecutors called the shooting cold-blooded and premeditated, pointing to Addison's threat to "pop a cop."

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