Currently, the law states: "A person convicted of a capital murder may be punished by death." The bill proposed that those found guilty would instead be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In New Hampshire, very few situations warrant the possibility of being sentenced to death. In a statement [PDF], Sununu said that he is on the side of the victims:
To repeal the death penalty in its entirety today would deprive the Cates' and other crime victims of the justice they deserve. Abolishing the death penalty in New Hampshire would send the wrong message to those who commit the most heinous offenses within our State's borders, namely that New Hampshire is a place where a person who commits an unthinkable crime is guaranteed leniency. New Hampshire is not and will never be a safe haven for those who would murder a police officer, cause a death during the commission of an aggravated sexual assault or home invasion, or commit any other capital offense.
In New Hampshire, there is currently one person on death row, Michael "Stix" Addison, a Black man who killed Michael Briggs, a white cop, while the last time there was an execution was 1939. This is not the first time that New Hampshire has almost abolished capital punishment [JURIST report].