RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA-Friday, a 12 member jury in Rapid City sentenced Briley Piper to death for his part in the slaying of Chester Poage in March of 2000 in Spearfish. They deliberated for 6 hours before announcing their decision.
Piper and Elijah Page, one of his accomplices was originally sentenced to death by a judge, Piper, Page and their lawyers had believed that Piper and Page would not receive the death penalty if sentenced by a judge. They were proved wrong. Piper appealed and requested a jury sentencing.
Page voluntarily ended his appeals and was put to death in 2007. It was the South Dakota’s first execution in 60 years. The third person sentenced for his participation in the crime, Darrel Hoadley, was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Circuit Judge Jerome Eckrich told jurors that they could sentence Piper to die only if the crime met one of three aggravating circumstances: Piper participated in the murder to benefit himself or another financially; Poage’s death was outrageous or inhuman; or Poage was killed to prevent Piper’s arrest.
The three, Page Piper and Hoadley, had kidnapped their friend, Chester Poage, after his mother and sister went on vacation to Florida with the intention of stealing from the home. The three later decided to kill him to keep him from talking.
Poage was stripped naked, taken to a gulch close to spearfish, and shoved into a stream. They taunted him, stabbed him and tried to drown him by stepping on his neck to keep him underwater. They ultimately ended his life two hours later by smashing basketball sized rocks onto his head. Poage’s remains were not found for weeks.
Robert Van Norman, in an attempt to avoid the death sentence for his client, told the jury, that Piper was very sorry and has worked hard to overcome adversities stemming from his premature birth.
Piper is to die by lethal injection.