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Judge to DOJ: Death Penalty for Jason Pleau?

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on June 11, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

And the Pleau saga continues.

We're talking about the Jason Wayne Pleau saga: The ongoing tug-of-war between a state and the feds over the fate of an accused killer.

Now, a federal judge has issued an order that might shed some more light on the fate of Jason Pleau and whether or not he will face the death penalty, if tried by the federal judiciary.

U.S. District Judge William Smith has issued an order that would compel the Justice Department to indicate whether or not it plans to seek the death penalty if, and when, Jason Pleau is tried by the federal courts.

For several months now, Pleau has been caught in between a legal system that does not allow for capital punishment and one that does. In state court, Pleau previously agreed to plead guilty to the state murder charges. Under Rhode Island law, Pleau would not face the death penalty, as Rhode Island does not have capital punishment.

But under federal law, he could face the death penalty; because he might be facing federal charges, this becomes an issue.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has been holding on to Pleau, refusing to surrender him to the feds.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has already ruled that Pleau must stand trial in federal court. Now, the Justice Department has until Tuesday to indicate whether or not it will seek the death penalty in the case of Jason Pleau.

As we all sit on the edge of our seats, we await Tuesday's response. If the answer is "no," then the attention turns to Governor Chafee. Will he surrender Pleau? What legal issues remain if the government indicates that it does not plan to seek the death penalty?

And if it does seek the death penalty for Jason Pleau, what's next in this legal saga?

July 25, 2012 Editor's note: This post has been updated to more accurately state that Pleau agreed to plead guilty to state murder charges. Those charges were later dismissed.

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