State v. Martineau

Decision Date24 July 1972
Docket NumberNo. 6431,6431
Citation293 A.2d 766,112 N.H. 278
PartiesSTATE v. Frederick J. MARTINEAU et al.
CourtNew Hampshire Supreme Court

Warren B. Rudman, Atty. Gen., and Henry F. Spaloss, Asst. Atty. Gen., Nashua, for the State.

Leonard, Prolman, Prunier & Mazerolle, Nashua (Richard W. Leonard, Nashua, orally), for Frederick J. Martineau and Russell Nelson.

LAMPRON, Justice.

Motion by the defendants Frederick Martineau and Russell Nelson to reduce to imprisonment for life the sentences of death imposed upon them on November 15, 1959, after a verdict of murder in the first degree returned by a jury with the added words 'with capital punishment.' RSA 585:4. The Trial Court (Loughlin, J.) transferred to this court without ruling the question whether it can so change such sentences.

It must be made clear at the outset that the sole issue submitted was the authority of the superior court to change the punishment imposed on the defendants. The question of their guilt which has been determined adversely to the defendants' was decided by jury verdicts of murder in the first degree which were affirmed by this court on appeal. State v. Nelson, 103 N.H. 478, 175 A.2d 814 (1961); see State v. Nelson, 105 N.H. 184, 196 A.2d 52 (1963); Nelson v. New Hampshire, 369 U.S. 879, 82 S.Ct. 1153, 8 L.Ed.2d 282 (1962); Martineau v. New Hampshire, 369 U.S. 881, 8 L.Ed.2d 283, 82 S.Ct. 1155 (1962). In accordance with the requirements of RSA 607:6, in imposing the death penalty the trial court sentenced the defendants to be imprisoned in the State prison until the day appointed for their execution. They were immediately taken to the prison on November 15, 1959, where they were held in solitary confinement until 1969 when they were integrated with the other prisoners. The order fixing the date for their execution was postponed several times by the superior court and is now under an indefinite stay 'pending completion of all appeals and court action.'

In opposing defendants' motion to reduce the death sentences to life imprisonment, the State, in its brief and at oral argument, relied mainly on the principles enunciated in State v. Dunn, 111 N.H. 320, 282 A.2d 675 (1971) and State v. Thomson, 110 N.H. 190, 263 A.2d 675 (1970). The State properly conceded that the limitations on the power of the superior court to revise a sentence dealt with in those cases involved a validly imposed sentence. After the issue was submitted to this court, a majority of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States decided on June 29, 1972, that the death penalty imposed within the discretion of State juries, as was the death penalty in these cases, violated the eighth and fourteenth amendments of the Federal Constitution. Furman v. Georgia, -- U.S. --, 92 S.Ct. 2726, 33 L.Ed.2d 346 (1972). We are bound by this decision. See Moore v. Illinois, -- U.S. --, 92 S.Ct. 2562, 33 L.Ed.2d 706 (1972).

The resulting situation in the cases of defendants Martineau and Nelson is that there is now standing against each of them a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree but so much of the jury...

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11 cases
  • State v. Addison
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • October 6, 2010
    ...the first degree shall be death or imprisonment for life, as the jury may determine." RSA 585:4 (1955) (repealed); Laws 1915, 65:3. In State v. Martineau, we acknowledged that we were bound by the Supreme Court's decision in Furman, and thus the death penalties on appeal violated the Eighth......
  • State v. Breest
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • December 17, 1976
    ...States v. Stewart, 531 F.2d 326 (6th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 426 U.S. 922, 96 S.Ct. 2629, 49 L.Ed.2d 376 (1976); State v. Martineau, 112 N.H. 278, 293 A.2d 766 (1972). Our answer to the transferred question is 'NO,' RSA 607:41-b to d (Supp.1972), now RSA 651:45-b to d is not unconstitutio......
  • Com. v. Harrington
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • February 14, 1975
    ...State v. Cuckovich, 485 S.W.2d 16, 28 (Mo.1972). Walker v. State, 88 Nev. 539, 540, 501 P.2d 651 (1972). State v. Martineau, 112 N.H. 278, 279--280, 293 A.2d 766 (1972). People v. Fitzpatrick, 32 N.Y.2d 499, 512--513, 346 N.Y.S.2d 793, 300 N.E.2d 139 (1973), cert. den. 414 U.S. 1033, 94 S.C......
  • Breest v. Perrin
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Hampshire
    • August 22, 1980
    ...however, in obtaining a change in his sentence from death to life imprisonment, and was eventually paroled. See State v. Martineau, 112 N.H. 278, 293 A.2d 766 (1972), and State ex rel. Thomson v. State Board of Parole, 115 N.H. 414, 342 A.2d 634 I. Respondents here concede that the instruct......
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