PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The third person charged in a 2010 killing that prompted a debate over states’ rights and the death penalty pleaded guilty on Thursday to all charges during jury selection for his trial on robbery, conspiracy and using a firearm in a crime of violence.
Jose Santiago entered the plea before U.S. District Judge William Smith, who set sentencing for Nov. 22. U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha said the plea was somewhat unexpected, and no plea agreement was in place. Santiago faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
His attorney, John Calcagni, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
Santiago, Jason Pleau and Kelly Lajoie were charged in the death of David Main, a Woonsocket gas station manager shot to death as he was walking into a bank to deposit the station’s weekend receipts.
The case drew national attention when Pleau, the trigger man, was deemed eligible for the death penalty and became the subject of a battle over capital punishment between Gov. Lincoln Chafee and the federal government. Chafee had argued the state abolished the death penalty so Pleau should not be subject to it. The federal government ultimately won out, though Pleau in July agreed to plead guilty in a deal that allows him to avoid the death penalty.
Lajoie has also pleaded guilty. Authorities say she acted as a lookout and Santiago was the getaway driver.
She and Santiago are from the Springfield, Mass., area.
Pleau and Lajoie have not yet been sentenced.