Most of the states in this country today are either concerned about how they are going to execute the inmates they already have on Death Row, what with the lack of drugs for their lethal injection process, or they are debating getting rid of capital punishment if for no other reason than cost.
Then there’s New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has a bill that’s already passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate that not only approves of capital punishment, but extends the application of the death penalty to killings that occur during a home invasion – sometimes called a "burglary killing."
There are other states that already consider a killing that occurs during the commission of a burglary to be felony murder. However, burglary must be listed alongside serious crimes like rape, armed robbery, etc. before the homicide can be held at the felony murder standard. The state legislature must approve that the particular killing is a crime for which the state can seek death as a punishment.
For example, Florida law already provides for killings during home invasions or any other type of burglary to be capital murders, punishable by death. Florida Statutes 782.04.
Why is New Hampshire Expanding the Death Penalty?
What New Hampshire is doing is not so strange in that it is adding home invasion killings to its felony murder litany as the fact that it is doing so in a decade where the economy alone is forcing states to reconsider the viability of the death penalty.
Lawmakers in New Hampshire are promoting this change in the law primarily because of one case: the 2009 machete killing of Kimberly Cates during a home invasion. Public outcry over this particular crime – and the fact that the defendants would not face the death penalty at trial – has fueled the proposed change in New Hampshire law.
The change is expected to pass and become law. The defendants in the Cates case are both serving sentences of life without parole, it will not apply to them.
Of interest: New Hampshire has not executed anyone since 1939.