Government officials say that Michael Jason Registe, the recently captured fugitive wanted for the 2007 deaths of two Hardaway High School graduates, has decided not to waive extradition.
But Registe's attorney on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten says his client hasn't yet decided whether to waive that right.
If Registe, 25, fights extradition, it likely will delay his return to Columbus, said District Attorney Gray Conger.
Federal officials told Conger Friday that Registe would not waive extradition. But that had been expected, and Conger has already provided the U.S. Department of Justice with documents and affidavits to put the extradition process in motion.
"He's going to be here just the same," Conger said.
Registe's attorney Remco Stomp, however, said he hasn't yet received legal documentation from the United States. "We are advising him not to move one inch," Stomp said. "We want to see some documents. If we didn't ask for that, we wouldn't be good attorneys."
Registe, a former Spencer High School athlete, is wanted for the July 20, 2007, execution-style shooting deaths of Randy Newton Jr., 21, and Bryan Kilgore, 20. Both were found in the parking lot of Cross Creek Apartments on Steam Mill Road. Newton died at the scene, and Kilgore died the following morning. The motive, Police Chief Ricky Boren said, was robbery.
Authorities believe Registe fled to the U.S. Virgin Islands shortly after the shootings. He was captured Aug. 27 on the Dutch-controlled portion of the Caribbean island of St. Maarten.
The documents sent to Washington by Conger — affidavits by himself and police officers as well as pictures and fingerprints of Registe — were prepared under the assumption that Registe wouldn't waive extradition. If he does, Conger wouldn't have needed to send the papers, he said.
Between states, extradition is common. Defense attorney William Mason said it happens around five times a week between Phenix City and Columbus. Someone accused of a crime in Phenix City but caught in Columbus often will waive extradition and be sent across the river. If that person doesn't waive extradition, Phenix City authorities must show that the person being held in Columbus is the same person wanted by Alabama police.
"If he wanted to come back, he'd already be here," Mason said of Registe.
Conger previously said that a waiver of the death penalty was a large part of the documentation sent to Washington. The Dutch are requiring that death be taken off the table as a potential punishment for Registe as part of the deal in his extradition.
The papers sent to the Justice Department will now be translated into Dutch. The translation and the original will then be sent to the State Department, which will make the formal extradition request, Conger said.