MANCHESTER, N.H. â€” A jury found Michael Addison, 28, guilty of capital murder this afternoon in the killing of Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs, after more than 12 hours of deliberation over two and a half days. Addison’s case will now proceed to a sentencing phase, which will determine whether he will face the death penalty or be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The verdict was announced to a packed courtroom, with Briggs’s family members and Manchester police officers filling all available courtroom seats and spilling into the lobby. Briggs’s two young sons, who have not attended any court proceedings, sat in the first row. Court officials brought chairs into the courtroom to accommodate some of the overflow crowd.
Addison’s lawyers conceded that their client shot and killed Briggs when the two men met in a Manchester alley early on Oct. 16, 2006. But they said the shooting was done recklessly, in a moment of panic, and that Addison did not intend to kill Briggs, a 35-year-old father of two.
Prosecutors argued that Addison “knowingly” killed Briggs to escape arrest for a series of increasingly violent crimes in the days before the murder. He’d told a number of friends that he’d shoot if a police officer tried to stop him, those friends said at trial.
Jurors were given two types of murder to consider: The capital murder charge brought by prosecutors, and the lesser second degree murder charge preferred by the defense, which would have carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
News of the verdict came just as lawyers were concluding a court hearing on details of the sentencing phase of the trial. The hearing was concluded, and family members and the many Manchester police officers awaiting the verdict began making phone calls in the lobby. Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and Briggs’s mother, Maryanne Briggs, hugged.