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Today the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court refused Governor Lincoln Chafee’s appeal in the Jason Pleau murder case. Mr. Pleau is accused of murder and faces the potential of the death penalty if convicted in federal court.
Mr. Pleau is accused of murdering David Main in the course of robbing him. The victim had gone to the Citizens Bank in Woonsocket to deposit money as manager for the Shell gas station. Mr. Pleau allegedly shot and killed Mr. Main in order to steal the deposit funds.
After the crime, the defendant fled the state and was captured three days later in New York City. On Oct. 12, 2010, Mr. Pleau was arraigned in District Court in Providence on the charges of robbery and murder. The presiding judge in the matter ruled that he was ineligible for bail.
Governor Lincoln Chafee got the state involved in the case because of the potential for the federal government to impose the death penalty if he is convicted. Under Rhode Island law, the death penalty is illegal and the maximum he could receive is life in prison.
This argument between the state of Rhode Island and the federal government has gone on for two years. It started in 2011 when the governor sought to protect the defendant from the federal death penalty. According to the Woonsocket Call, Governor Chafee refused to transfer Mr. Pleau to federal so that he could be arraigned in the federal court system.
Sandy Phaneuf of the Woonsocket Patch reported that the governor refused the federal government’s request because Rhode Islanders are against the death penalty. Ms. Phanuef reported that the governor said that:
“A transfer of Mr. Pleau to temporary federal custody would potentially expose him to the death penalty, a penalty consciously rejected by the State of Rhode Island, even for those guilty of the most heinous crimes.”
The governor vowed to appeal the federal government’s order. Mr. Chafee took his case to federal appellate court, the First District Court of Appeals, which on May 07, 2012 refused his appeal upholding the lower court’s decision that the state must hand over Mr. Pleau.
When the appellate court denied the governor’s appeal in May, his office decided to take the matter up to the highest court of appeals in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court. Today the Supreme Court decided not to take the case.
The federal government’s case against Mr. Pleau in the death of David Main will finally move forward. Justice will finally arrive for David Main’s family.