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Dottie Poage: Piper Deserves Death Penalty

September 1, 2009, 5:55 PM by Karla Ramaekers

Dottie Poage: Piper Deserves Death Penalty
He doesn't deny he had a hand in killing Chester Allan Poage nine years ago near Spearfish, but Briley Piper says he doesn't deserve to die. That was a judge's original sentence after Piper pleaded guilty to murder, but the state Supreme Court recently overturned it.

Twenty-nine-year-old Briley Piper took his appeals to the Supreme Court, which decided the judge was not clear with Piper that in death penalty cases just one person on a 12-member jury can spare his life.  While he could now receive life in prison, the victim's mother says that's not enough to avenge her son's death.

An emotionless Briley Piper made his way to a Lawrence County courtroom Tuesday to begin the re-sentencing process for his role in killing Chester Allan Poage in 2000.

Karla Ramaekers: Do you have anything to say, Briley?
Briley Piper: No, not really.

The victim's mother does have something to say. Dottie Poage was in court wearing one of her son's shirts and says seeing Piper reminds her of the horrible details of his death.

"It was exactly what I expected it to be. He walks on this earth and it's something I have to live with every day," Poage said.

The trial to decide whether Piper will live or die will begin on April 5 with jury selection. Lawrence County State's Attorney John Fitzgerald says regardless of who hears the case, the evidence justifies the need for a death sentence.

"I'd characterize it as extremely brutal.  One of the most brutal crimes probably in the history of the state of South Dakota," Fitzgerald said.

That's something Poage believes a jury will agree with, even if it means dragging the case out for a decade.

"I have to accept that that's the way the system works, and he has that right for that trial, but I also trust in God, I trust in my attorney and I trust in the system that the verdict will be what's correct because of the crime," Poage said.

The crime that took her son's life and for which she'll continue the quest for justice.

"He's no longer here to fight for his own rights and that's where I trust in the system that they will do that for my son," Poage said.

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