advertisement

UPDATE: Appeals to halt Missouri execution fail; Nixon denies clemency

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | 8:20 p.m. CDT; updated 9:18 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UPDATE: This article has been updated with Gov. Jay Nixon's denial of clemency. The dateline has been changed to Bonne Terre, where the execution is scheduled.

BONNE TERRE — A Missouri man scheduled to be executed early Wednesday has exhausted all of his appeals, barring an unforeseen development.

William Rousan, 57, was scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. for killing a southeast Missouri farm couple 21 years ago. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request for a stay, and the full court on Tuesday refused to reconsider the case. Rousan's attorneys immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court denied the request later in the day without comment.

Later Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon declined a clemency request. Nixon said in a statement Tuesday evening that he thought Rousan's death sentence was appropriate.

Several states, including Missouri, now use compounded execution drugs purchased from unnamed pharmacies. Courts so far have allowed executions to move forward, though some dissenting judges have questioned the practice.

Missouri has executed one death row inmate each month since November. Another execution, of Russell Bucklew, is scheduled for May 21. Only Texas, with seven executions, and Florida, with four, have executed more inmates than Missouri's three so far in 2014.

Rousan was sentenced to death for killing 62-year-old Grace Lewis, of rural St. Francois County, in 1993. He was sentenced to life in prison for killing her 67-year-old husband, Charles. The killings were part of a plot to steal cattle from the Lewis farm near Bonne Terre — just a couple of miles from the prison where Rousan faces execution.

Rousan also lived in the same area of St. Francois County, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis. On Sept. 21, 1993, Rousan, his 16-year-old son, Brent, and his brother, Robert, concocted a plan to kill the couple and steal their cattle. Authorities said at trial that William Rousan was the ringleader.

The men drove by the farm, and William Rousan pointed out the cattle to steal. They parked about two miles away and hiked through the woods to the farm. They watched as the couple returned home. Charles Lewis began cutting the lawn with a riding mower while his wife spoke to the couple's daughter on the phone.

Brent Rousan ambushed Charles Lewis, shooting him six times. Grace Lewis told her daughter on the phone she heard gunfire and stepped outside to check on the commotion. Brent Rousan shot her several times. She managed to go back into the home, but William Rousan followed her, placed a garment bag over her head and carried her outside.

He turned to his son and said, "Finish her off." Brent Rousan fired a single shot into the side of her head.

The men placed the bodies in a tarp and put them near a shed. Later that night, they returned, along with another Rousan brother, loaded the bodies in the Lewis' pickup truck, and took two cows, a VCR, jewelry, a saddle and other items.

For almost exactly a year, they got away with the crime. The couple seemingly had vanished without a trace.

In September 1994 investigators received a tip — a VCR sold to a pawn shop by a sister of William and Robert Rousan was the one stolen from the Lewises. It was the break police had been waiting for.

The bodies were found buried in a shallow grave covered with concrete and a pile of horse manure on the farm where William Rousan was living at the time. After a four-day manhunt, Rousan was arrested while hiding in a barn on Sept. 20, 1994. He was caught with a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle and a knife.

Brent Rousan pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Robert Rousan cooperated with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He was released from prison in 2001, Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman David Owen said.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements