Sunday, August 2, 2009

South Dakota Supreme Court Overturns Death Sentence

The South Dakota Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence of a 29 year old man because the judge did not properly advise him of his jury rights at the time of sentencing. Briley Piper abducted a 19 year old victim, along with two other defendants, as part of a plot to burglarize the home of the victim's mother while she was on vacation. After they abducted the victim, the forced him to take off most of his clothes, forced him to go into an icy creek, stabbed him repeatedly, kicked him in the head 30 to 40 times, struck him with large rocks and eventually forced him to drink hydrochloric acid. The victim's body was found in a creek several weeks after he was abducted. Piper plead guilty to the murder and waived his right to a jury to determine his sentence. At the sentencing, the trial judge incorrectly told Piper that if he chose a jury, his fate would be decided by them, instead of telling him that even if one juror disagreed on the death penalty, he would receive life without parole. The South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that this mistake meant that Piper did not make a knowing and voluntary waiver of his right to a jury.

This ruling by the South Dakota Supreme Court leaves Piper's first degree murder conviction in tact but returns the case to the trial court for sentencing. Piper's attorney has indicated that Piper will ask for a jury to determine his sentence.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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