Supreme Court denies Pleau appeal


The United States Supreme Court Monday denied petitions by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and defendant Jason Wayne Pleau.

Chafee asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case at the center of a legal tug of war between the state and federal prosecutors.

The Supreme Court Monday said it has refused to consider the governor’s and Jason Wayne Pleau’s challenge to the earlier decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, requiring that the state surrender custody of Pleau for trial on pending federal charges.

The petition filed by Chafee’s attorneys sought to appeal a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that Jason Pleau may stand trial in federal court, where prosecutors say they intend to seek the death penalty. Rhode Island does not have the death penalty and Chafee had sought to prevent Pleau from being prosecuted in federal court.

He argued that the federal government is violating a legal agreement that authorizes the state to deny a request to transfer a prisoner. “This is a significant states’ rights matter,” Chafee said.

United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha said Monday, “I am obviously pleased with the decision of the United States Supreme Court not to review the First Circuit’s entirely correct ruling requiring the State of Rhode Island to surrender custody of Mr. Pleau to the United States for trial in federal court.

As we have been since September of 2010, we are prepared to move ahead with this case immediately and without delay.” 

Pleau is accused of fatally shooting 49-year-old David Main as he approached a Woonsocket bank on Sept. 20, 2010, to deposit receipts from a nearby Shell station where he worked.

Prosecutors say a masked Pleau chased and shot Main multiple times, then made off with a bank deposit bag containing more than $12,000. Not guilty pleas have been entered on Pleau’s behalf.

Pleau was indicted on federal charges in December 2010, but his prosecution has been delayed by the legal fight between Chafee and prosecutors over where he would stand trial.

The 1st U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in May that Pleau may stand trial in federal court. Pleau had been serving an 18-year sentence in state prison for a probation violation before he was transferred to federal custody following the ruling.

Pleau’s attorneys have said their client is willing to plead guilty to state charges and serve a life sentence.

The state’s legal work in the case is being handled by Patricia Millett, a partner at the firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld, Chafee’s office said. The work is being done at no cost to the state.

Federal prosecutors said in June that they plan to seek the death penalty for Pleau, who they say has a long record of violent crimes and shows no remorse for Main’s death.


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