Federal Court tells Rhode Island to hand over accused killer

The legal tug-of-war between Rhode Island and the federal government, over who gets to prosecute accused killer Jason Pleau, is nearly over.

A federal appeals court in Boston ruled on Monday that Pleau must stand trial in federal court, which means that he could face the death penalty.

ABC6 legal analyst Ken Schreiber says that the 3 to 2 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Now the legal battle over who had the right to prosecute Jason Pleau, who is accused of killing a man outside a Woonsocket bank in 2010, is very much a battle over the differing philosophies held by the state of Rhode Island and the federal government.

And according to Schreiber, the decision by the federal court of appeals, shows decisively that the federal government won.

“Clearly they felt that the federal government basically had its trump card over the state in this particular situation.” said Schreiber.

The problem the state and Governor Lincoln Chafee had with letting Pleau be prosecuted by the feds came from fear that he may face the death penalty, which is a punishment that the Rhode Island hasn't had on its law books since 1852.

And now that federal government has won an appeal to try Pleau, Ken Schreiber believes that the odds are that Pleau, will face the death penalty.

“The implication is that they would not have filed this appeal and gone to the next step, unless they were going to seek the death penalty.” said Schreiber.

Having lost the appeal, Rhode Island must now decide what it wants to do.

And if they do decide to challenge this decision, there's only one place they can go, the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The perception is its going to end here, unless something extraordinary happens.” said Ken Schreiber.

The man who's likely to make the final call on whether there's any challenge to this decision is Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Right now as of Monday night, Governor Chafee says he's reviewing his legal options, in the case.