By Ted Siefer
CONCORD, N.H. (Reuters) - New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan on Tuesday signed a law that requires convicted criminals to appear in court at sentencing when victims’ families and friends are given the opportunity to express their pain.
The law, believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, was proposed after a man convicted last year of murdering a 19-year-old college student asked not to attend his sentencing, saying he didn't want to hear the victim's family “yell and whine and bitch and moan.”
In the end, convicted murderer Seth Mazzaglia, 33, dropped the request and attended the sentencing, where family members of his victim, Elizabeth "Lizzy" Marriott, expressed profound grief and anger toward him.
Her father, Bob Marriott, was among several relatives of crime victims who backed the bill.
At the bill-signing ceremony, Hassan praised Marriott “for speaking up on behalf of his daughter Lizzy, for his family, and for all families impacted by crime.”
She touted the bill as a bipartisan accomplishment at a time when tensions are high between the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled legislature over a budget standoff.
The signing comes almost a year to the day after Mazzaglia was sentenced to life in prison without parole for first degree murder involving sexual assault, among other crimes.
He was accused of having his girlfriend lure Marriott to their apartment so he could have sex with her. Prosecutors alleged Mazzaglia strangled Marriott after she rejected his sexual advances and then raped her lifeless body.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh)