Governor Lincoln Chafee has decided he'll appeal the U.S First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling telling him he must turn over accused murderer Jason Pleau to federal custody.
Pleau, who has been the subject of a custody struggle between federal authorities and Chafee, could face the death penalty in federal court. In state court, Pleau would face a maximum sentence of life in prison. The governor has refused to turn Pleau over to federal authorities for the last 10 months, invoking Rhode Island's long-standing objection to the death penalty and the state's sovereignty.
In a release sent out at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Chafee wrote: "After reviewing the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals en banc opinion, and weighing the state’s considerable interests, I have decided to appeal the 1st Circuit’s decision. Given the close vote of the full court, which demonstrates a genuine split in the interpretation of the law, the State of Rhode Island must seek to protect both the strong states’ rights issues at stake and the legitimacy of its longstanding public policy against the death penalty."
Chafee stated his in-house legal staff is handling the case as part of their regular duties, so there will be no extra cost to taxpayers.
The state has a good case, Chafee said, because the National Governors Association, representing the governors of all 50 states, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and the American Civil Liberties Union all stood with Rhode Island in the appeal before the 1st Circuit.
"Their support is indicative of the state’s strong position," Chafee wrote.
Pleau is charged with murdering David Main, 49, who was robbed and fatally shot on his way into a Citizen’s Bank branch on Diamond Hill Road, in September 2010.