CONCORD, NH – A New Hampshire law will require convicted criminals be present during sentencing to hear the impact statements of families and friends of their victims. It is the first law of its kind in the country.
Gov. Maggie Hassan signed HB 225 into law on Aug. 1. The bill was proposed after Seth Mazzaglia, 33, convicted of brutally murdering and raping 19-year-old Lizzy Marriott, asked not to attend the sentencing because he didn’t want to hear the victim’s family “yell and whine and bitch and moan,” according to a Reuters story.
Ultimately, Mazzaglia did attend the hearing.
The bill reads in part, “Before a judge sentences or suspends or reduces the sentence of any person for capital, first degree or second degree murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, aggravated felonious sexual assault, felonious sexual assault, first degree assault, or negligent homicide committed in consequence of being under the influence of intoxicating liquor or controlled drugs, the victim of the offense, or the victim’s next of kin if the victim has died, shall have the opportunity to address the judge.”
Hassan was joined Tuesday by legislators, community leaders and advocates, including Bob Marriott, father of Liz Marriott, as she ceremonially signed the bill into law, one of three new domestic violence laws on the NH books.
“Maintaining the safety of New Hampshire’s communities and citizens is the most important job of state government, and these laws will help us strengthen our efforts to address domestic violence and ensure that there is justice for victims and their loved ones,” Hassan said.
“These bipartisan measures will help deter crime and bring closure to victims’ families and loves ones. I thank Rep. Cushing for sponsoring these three bills and legislators from both parties for passing these important measures that I am honored to sign into law.”
In addition to HB 225, Hassan also signed HB 616, a bill relative to compensation to claimants under the victims’ assistance fund; and HB 681, a bill establishing a fine for persons convicted of domestic violence and increasing the marriage license fee, with the funds to be used to increase support for domestic violence abuse victims and prevention efforts.
BH 225 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016.