“Governor [Lincoln D. Chaffee] exercised his discretion on a public policy basis, and refused the request,” Claire Richards, Chafee’s chief legal officer, told the three-member panel of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.Jason Wayne Pleau allegedly shot and killed 49 year old gas station clerk Jason Main when he went to deposit more than $12,000 in receipts at a Citizen's Bank branch in Woonsocket, RI in September 2010. Since the bank is federally insured, this gives the US Attorney for Rhode Island jurisdiction.
“The governor has a right. … The state has a sovereignty right,” she said.
But Donald Lockhart, a lawyer for Rhode Island US Attorney Peter Neronha, argued that the governor’s office has no standing in the case -- and that the federal government was exercising its right to prosecute a murder that occurred under its jurisdiction.
Pleau had a lengthy criminal background including robbery, burglary and assault. Earlier, he had offered to plead guilty to killing Main and accept a sentence of life without parole- the toughest penalty under Rhode Island law.
Chafee, however, refused to turn Pleau over to the Feds while citing his opposition to the death penalty. Neronha's office sought a court order to have Rhode Island turn over Pleau to their custody, but Pleau's legal team took the case to higher courts, citing Chafee's opposition.
With an unemployment rate of 11%, you would think Gov. Chafee might have better uses for state resources and time than protecting a career criminal from the Feds. Chafee- a former Republican Senator whose voting record and policy statements were more in line with left-wing progressive Democrats- ran as in independent for governor of Rhode Island and won last year.