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SD Attorney General Talks About Death Penalty

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When it comes to South Dakota's most dangerous inmates being on death row can be a long drawn out process, which of course is what they are hoping for in most cases. Donald Moeller delayed his execution for 22 years before his death last year. And so far Charles Rhines has held his execution at bay for 21 years. So when South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley argued for tougher laws, lawmakers agreed and passed new legislation.

“I think the system needs to give the defendant due process, but there needs to become some reality on what due process is, is it 25 years of litigation, or is it a situation where once a judge a jury have spoken there been both a state and federal review unless their is something out of the ordinary, such as newly discovered evidence or DNA that there needs to be some closure for the victims family,” said Jackely.

Jackley says with the new laws it will be realistic for inmates to face their execution 5 to 10 years after they are sentenced.

“Certainly that is dependent on the case and the case facts and its very important as we use the death penalty sparingly that we get it right, that we make sure due process is followed and the defendant has all the opportunity to plead his or her case, said Jackley.

One of the death penalty cases being delayed is the Briley Piper case. He was found guilty of torturing and killing Chester Poage in Spearfish Canyon. Piper was sentenced to die by a judge, then again by a jury. His lawyer is now arguing he deserves another trial. Jackley says once the South Dakota Supreme Court rules on that; it could still be 3 to 5 years before Piper's execution.  
That's because once he's done with the state courts, Piper still has options in federal courts.
 “Its been over a decade ago a case that is horrendous from Spearfish Canyon, and we are now to the third trip to the supreme court, now addressing whether or not he's entitled to yet another jury trial”, said Jackley.

The Attorney General believes closure for the families of victims can be delivered sooner, while still maintaining due process for those convicted of murder.  
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