"Full appeals court to hear RI shot-at-bank case," is the AP report bybLaura Crimaldi.
The full panel of a federal appeals court on Wednesday decided to hear the case of a man stuck in a legal tug-of-war between prosecutors and Gov. Lincoln Chafee over a possible death penalty prosecution.
The order by the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston vacates an October decision siding with Jason Pleau. The 34-year-old Pleau is accused of fatally shooting gas station manager David Main, 49, outside a bank last year. Rhode Island doesn’t have the death penalty.
The full panel will hear the case on April 4. The court said prosecutors and lawyers for Pleau and Chafee can submit additional written arguments to the panel.
In October, the appellate court’s three-judge panel issued a 2-1 decision in favor of Pleau, saying Chafee has the right to keep him in state custody. Prosecutors last month asked the court to reconsider the ruling.
Chafee says prosecutors want to try Pleau in a federal court to expose him to the death penalty. Prosecutors have not said whether they’ll seek the death penalty if Pleau is convicted. In a statement, Chafee called it “entirely appropriate’’ for the full court to hear and decide the case and said he looks forward to presenting his case.
Pleau’s attorney, Robert B. Mann, said he knew the appeals court might decide to put Pleau’s case before a full panel of judges. The office of Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha had no immediate comment.
The custody battle over Pleau dates back to June when Chafee refused a request from federal prosecutors to surrender Pleau so he could be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Providence. The fatal shooting took place at the threshold of a federally insured bank, giving federal authorities the jurisdiction to prosecute Pleau.
Chafee, an independent, cited the state’s long opposition to the death penalty in refusing the request. Pleau has agreed to plead guilty to state murder charges and serve life in prison without parole.
After Chafee’s denial, prosecutors asked a federal district court judge to order Pleau’s surrender. The judge sided with prosecutors, but Pleau’s federal court arraignment was canceled after the appeals court sided with him and granted a temporary stay of the transfer order.
"1st Circuit to re-hear prisoner custody battle," by Matt Yas for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
The full 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to rehear the case of an accused killer’s custody battle that has pitted federal prosecutors against the governor of Rhode Island.
Today’s ruling vacates an earlier 1st Circuit panel decision that ruled the defendant would remain in state custody.
A three-judge panel on Oct. 13 ruled 2-1 in favor of Jason Pleau, who stands accused of fatally shooting a gas station manager outside a Citizens bank last September. Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee’s June decision to keep Pleau in state custody made him the first governor to refuse a request by federal officials to hand over a prisoner. U.S. prosecutors have said they would consider asking for the death penalty.