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Missouri Execution: Fourth Death Row Execution of 2014

The fourth Missouri execution of 2014 was performed early Wednesday morning only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he planned and carried out the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.

The inmate’s, William Rousan, last departing words were, “My trials and transgressions have been many. But thanks be to my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, I have a new home in his heavenly kingdom.”

missouri execution

Missouri executed their fourth inmate of 2014 early Wednesday morning.
WIlliam Rousan, courtesy of AP.

Before he died, 57-year-old Rousan mouthed words to his brother-in-law and a minister he had invited. As the drug was administered in his veins, Rousan breathed deeply twice and then passed. He was declared dead at 12:10 a.m., nine minutes after the procedure began.

Michael Lewis, the son of the murdered couple, Charlie and Grace Lewis, spoke afterward.

“I draw no real satisfaction from Mr. Rousan’s incarceration or execution, for neither can replace or restore the moments lost with my parents or give my sons back the grandparents they never got to know,” he said.

According to prosecutors, Rousan, his teenage son, Brent Rousan, and his brother, Robert Rousan worked together to murder Charles and Grace Lewis on Sept. 21, 1993, at their farm near Bonne Terre. Rousan lived in the same area at St. Francois County, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Authorities say the three men drove by the farm, and William Rousan said he wanted to steal their cattle. They parked about two miles away and hiked through the woods making their way to the farm. They hid out as the couple arrived home. Charles Lewis began mowing the lawn while his wife spoke to the couple’s daughter on the phone.

Brent Rousan, at the time 16, ambushed Charles Lewis, shooting him six times. Grace Lewis told her daughter she had heard gunshots and went outside to check on the commotion. Brent Rousan shot her as well. She managed to get back into the home, but William Rousan followed her, placing a garment bag over her head and carried her outside.

Brent Rousan fired a single gunshot into the side of her head after his father instructed, “Finish her off.”

For a year, the three got away with the crime until investigators received two tips that helped them solve the case. Rousan’s brother-in-law, Bruce Williams, called police and implicated Rousan in the couple’s death, and a sister of William and Robert Rousan sold the Lewises’ stolen VCR to a pawn shop.

Brent Rousan pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole. Robert Rousan pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was released in 2001.

Efforts to stop William Rousan’s execution ultimately failed after the U.S. Supreme Court shot down his request to delay his execution.

This marks the fourth Missouri execution in 2014. Missouri has executed one death row inmate since November with plans to execute another in May. Only Texas, with seven executions, has executed more inmates than Missouri.

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