JUNE 24, 2011
The governor of Rhode Island is shielding a murderer from execution by refusing to turn him over to federal authorities to face charges that could result in the death penalty.Rhode Island is one of 16 states (along with the District of Columbia) that don’t have capital punishment and the murderer, Jason Pleau, faces execution under federal guidelines. Police say Pleau was the masked gunman who killed a gas station manager outside a Providence-area bank last year.Pleau was a parolee with a lengthy criminal record when he pulled the trigger, according to local news reports. Pleau killed a 49-year-old gas-station manager who was making a morning deposit outside the doors of a local bank. Federal gun charges filed against Pleau carry a possible death penalty.The federal government has requested custody of Pleau, but Chafee refuses, explaining that he “cannot in good conscience voluntarily expose a Rhode Island citizen to a potential death penalty prosecution.” The Republican turned independent further said in a statement published in local media that capital punishment is a “a penalty consciously rejected by the state of Rhode Island, even for those guilty of the most heinous crimes.”However, the governor stresses that his “disapproval of the federal government’s request” in no way minimizes the “tragic and senseless nature” of the murder. He goes on to extend his “deepest sympathy to the victim’s family for its “unspeakable loss.”Chaffee has made several other controversial moves in his short time as governor. Upon taking office in January, he quickly killed measures to crack down on illegal immigration for the sake of statewide economic growth and prosperity in “immigrant-rich areas.”A few days later he announced a talk radio ban that forbids all state employees from having any contact with radio broadcasters. This week Chaffee signed a new law directing state education officials to create lesson plans that teach children about genocide in countries likeIraq, Cambodia and Rwanda.
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