CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The father of a woman killed in the Oklahoma City bombings five years ago told lawmakers Monday the death penalty is about revenge and hate.
Bud Welch, whose daughter Julie was killed in the deadliest terrorist attack ever in America, said he'd rather see the men responsible face life imprisonment than execution.
"Executing them would be an act of revenge and rage, and I realized that acts of revenge and rage are exactly why Julie and 167 others are dead," he said.
Welch was among more than 50 people who testified before the Senate Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee for a bill to abolish the death penalty in New Hampshire.
The state's death penalty law applies to a short list of crimes, including murder of a law enforcement or corrections officer, murder for hire and murder during a rape or attempted rape. The last execution was in 1939.
Rep. Jim Splaine, D-Portsmouth, proposes changing the penalty for those crimes to life without parole, the mandatory existing penalty for first-degree murder.
Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, one of the few people who testified against the bill, said the state needs to keep the option open for cases in which there is no doubt about the killer's guilt. She cited the case of Carl Drega, who killed two police officers, a judge and a newspaper editor in Colebrook in 1997 before being killed by police across the river in Vermont.
Shaheen, who has said she would veto the bill if it reaches her, has tried unsuccessfully to expand the list of death penalty crimes.
Capital punishment opponents argued that life in prison is amore just punishment than execution. They also cited the extraordinary cost of prosecuting death penalty cases and fighting appeals that can take years.
Some also said the death penalty is a human rights issue.
"We consider the death penalty to be the ultimate form of torture," said Joshua Rubenstein, New England director of Amnesty International.
Kirk Bloodsworth, who spent eight years on death row in Maryland after being falsely convicted of the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl, said that because of cases like his, the death penalty shouldn't exist.
"The death penalty is not about the guilty people that need to be punished, but about protecting innocent people that need to be defended," he said. "If you don't have it, you can't make a mistake."
The bill passed the House in March by a vote of 191-163.