PROVIDENCE — A Rhode Island man at the center of a capital punishment battle between the state and federal governments was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on Friday after changing his plea to avoid the death penalty.
Jason Pleau pleaded guilty in July in the 2010 killing of David Main, a gas station manager who was walking to a bank to deposit the store’s receipts — $12,542 — when Pleau ambushed him. Main ran toward the bank and Pleau shot him in the head, then picked up the bag of money and left. He went on a shopping spree with his girlfriend later that day.
Governor Lincoln Chafee fought unsuccessfully to keep Pleau out of federal custody because of the threat that the US attorney’s office might pursue capital punishment, arguing the state had rejected the death penalty. As part of Pleau’s agreement to plead guilty to robbery, conspiracy, and using a firearm in a violent crime, the judge agreed to sentence him to life in prison without parole.
US District Judge William Smith on Friday formally imposed the sentence after hearing from prosecutors about Pleau’s life of crime, as well as from Main’s wife and sisters about Main’s life and the impact the killing has had on them. Main’s wife, Kathy, told the court about the last time she saw her husband, which was early that morning as she helped him find his keys before his 6 a.m. shift started at the gas station.
It was the last time she saw him alive. They had just celebrated their 25th anniversary.
She said she had to cut back at work and eventually lost her job because of the grief.