Deadline announced for prosecutors to decide on death penalty in Providence murder case

Providence

BOSTON (WPRI) — A Providence man will soon learn if he will face the death penalty, after being accused of kidnapping and killing a young Massachusetts mother in 2019.

At a hearing Tuesday conducted remotely, U.S. District Judge Dennis Saylor set a deadline of September 10th to make the decision in Louis Coleman’s case.

Coleman is accused of kidnapping 23-year-old Jassy Correia at a Boston nightclub and bringing her to his Providence apartment in February 2019. Her body was later found in his trunk.

Coleman is accused of kidnapping resulting in death, which carries a potential death sentence. He has pleaded not guilty.

As Target 12 last reported in May, the judge set a tentative trial date for February 2022.

If the death penalty is pursued, however, that trial date could change, as pursuing the death penalty would involve two different trials.

The first trial would have the jury consider if Coleman is guilty of the crime, followed by a separate trial to determine if the government has proved the aggravating circumstances that would support the punishment of death.

The September death penalty decision deadline comes after U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland imposed a moratorium on federal executions on July 1, while Justice Department’s policies and procedures are being reviewed.

“The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States but is also treated fairly and humanely,” Garland said in a statement earlier this month. “That obligation has special force in capital cases.”

The DOJ carried out the first federal executions in nearly two decades between July 2020 and January 2021, before President Joe Biden took office.

According to the DOJ’s office of public affairs, the department has made a series of changes to capital case policies and procedures in the last two years.

The changes, according to the DOJ, included “adopting a new protocol for administering lethal injections at the federal Bureau of Prisons, using the drug pentobarbital.”

Attorney General Garland’s July 1 memorandum directs the Deputy Attorney General to lead a multi-pronged review of these recent policy changes, including:

  • A review coordinated by the Office of Legal Policy of the Addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol, adopted in 2019, which will assess, among other things, the risk of pain and suffering associated with the use of pentobarbital.
  • A review coordinated by the Office of Legal Policy to consider changes to Justice Department regulations made in November 2020 that expanded the permissible methods of execution beyond lethal injection, and authorized the use of state facilities and personnel in federal executions.
  • A review of the Justice Manual’s capital case provisions, including the December 2020 and January 2021 changes to expedite execution of capital sentences.
  • The Attorney General’s memorandum requires the reviews to include consultations with a wide range of stakeholders including the relevant department components, other federal and state agencies, medical experts and experienced capital counsel, among others.

No federal executions will be scheduled while the reviews are pending.

Garland was one of the federal prosecutors who oversaw the death penalty case of Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh.

President Biden has said he’d support legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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