State v. Briley Piper

  
State v. Briley Piper

On March 13, 2000, Briley Piper and two other individuals kidnapped Chester Allan Poage and beat him to death. Afterwards, they returned to Poage's home and stole personal property and the victim's 1997 Blazer, which was used to leave the state. Prior to trial, Piper pleaded guilty to Felony Murder, Kidnapping, Robbery in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, and Grand Theft. Piper further waived his right to a jury trial on sentencing and the sentencing hearing was held in front of the trial court. After this hearing, the trial court sentenced Piper to death. He has appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

On April 3, 2002, the South Dakota Supreme Court remanded the Piper case to the trial court for further proceedings, including an evidentiary hearing, on Piper’s allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and disproportionality of his death sentence. The trial court had had no opportunity to consider those issues because the issues arose after the appeal had begun. In the remand order, the Court did not decide the merits of any issues on appeal. The matter was decided on remand by the Circuit Court, and it will now return to the South Dakota Supreme Court for further briefing and decision by that Court. The Supreme Court decided to start the appeal process over, and the Court thereafter received written briefs and heard oral argument in March, 2004. The Supreme Court issued its decision affirming the death sentence and the conviction on January 4, 2006. The matter thereafter was remanded to the Circuit court. To this point, no new execution date has been set. There are several rounds of habeas court in State and federal courts that Piper may pursue, and so no estimate of the time when the sentence may be carried out is possible at this time. Further information will be added as it becomes available.

On August 4, 2006, Piper requested habeas corpus relief from the Circuit Court, Fourth Judicial Circuit, the Honorable John Bastian presiding. Judge Bastian denied relief on February 15, 2008, and Piper appealed this denial to the South Dakota Supreme Court. That Court granted habeas relief by setting aside the sentence of death, but affirming the underlying convictions on July 29, 2009. The reason cited was that Piper did not validly waive his right to have a jury determine the death penalty. The Court remanded the case to the sentencing court for a new sentencing proceeding that will afford Piper the right to have a jury decide whether the death penalty should be imposed. The trial court has not yet scheduled a new sentencing proceeding.

Last Updated: April 20, 2006