Lawyers argue over evidence in officer's death

Michael Addison could face the death penalty. Michael Addison could face the death penalty.
Associated Press / September 3, 2008
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MANCHESTER, N.H. - Lawyers in Michael Addison's upcoming capital murder trial are arguing over what evidence the jury will hear.

A judge is scheduled to hold a hearing today on a number of motions.

Addison, 28, is charged in the shooting of Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. Prosecutors say Addison shot Briggs in October 2006 to evade arrest. If convicted, Addison could face the death penalty.

Jury selection for Addison's trial is scheduled to start Sept. 22.

Prosecutors want to admit evidence that Addison was wanted in three crimes when, they say, he shot Briggs. They said it shows Addison did it to avoid arrest. But Addison's attorneys objected.

"It is hard to see how a jury can dispassionately determine whether Addison committed capital murder when it is inundated with details" of crimes Addison committed, they said.

Prosecutors also want to present evidence that Addison and Briggs met before the shooting, including when Briggs responded to a 2003 incident in which Addison had been shot in the shoulder. They said the evidence shows Addison "knew he was shooting a police officer."

But defense attorneys said the evidence is irrelevant. There was no way the man who shot Briggs could have identified him; the shooting happened at night, and the shooter was wearing a hood that obscured his vision, they said.

Addison's lawyers want to bar witnesses from mentioning any medical treatment Briggs received after being shot because they said it's irrelevant.

But, prosecutors said, telling how officers tried to help their fallen comrade rather than giving chase "helps to explain why the police did not immediately apprehend the assailant."

Addison's lawyers want to prohibit prosecutors and witnesses from referring to Briggs's shooting as "murder." They said the term is prejudicial and implies that Addison is guilty.

But prosecutors said that avoiding the term "defies common sense." They said the term "merely reflects the charge brought against the defendant," which the jury will know.

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