The U.S First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has ruled Gov. Lincoln Chafee must turn accused murderer Jason Pleau over to federal authorities.
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.
This afternoon, the Governor's office released a brief statement on the decision: "I am in the process of reviewing the en banc opinion issued today. As predicted, this was a close vote. Given the divided panel, the considerable states’ rights issues involved, and the fact that a human life could be at stake, we will carefully evaluate all of our options," Chafee wrote.
US Attorney Peter F. Neronha's office also issued a brief statement: “Today’s ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirms our position from the outset, that the Governor does not have the right to bar a defendant who is properly charged by the federal government from appearing in federal court to face those charges. This office, as we have been from the outset, is prepared to move forward with the prosecution of Mr. Pleau.”
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. Main was the manager of a Shell gas station and was on his way to make a deposit from that business.