Alan Jeffrey Bannister

Executed October 22, 1997 by Lethal Injection in Missouri


60th murderer executed in U.S. in 1997
418th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
6th murderer executed in Missouri in 1997
29th murderer executed in Missouri since 1976


Since 1976
Date of Execution
State
Method
Murderer
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
Birth
Victim(s)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Murder
Method of
Murder
Relationship
to Murderer
Date of
Sentence
418
10-22-97
MO
Lethal Injection
Alan Jeffrey Bannister

W / M / 24 - 39

07-01-58
Darrell Ruestman

W / M / ?

08-20-82
Handgun
None
03-10-83

Summary:
Alan Bannister was on parole for rape in Illinois when he shot Darrell Ruestman once in the heart on Aug. 21, 1982, at the front door of Ruestman's trailer in Joplin, Missouri. Ronald Rick Wooten, whose wife had run off with Ruestman, lived with Bannister near Peoria, Illinois and hired him to commit the killing for $4,000. Officers at trial testified that Bannister admitted that he was hired to kill Ruestman in an unrecorded statement. Officers also testified that Bannister directed them to a piece of paper with Ruestman's name and address written on it. Bannister did not testify at trial, but in post-trial statements said the .22-caliber pistol went off accidentally after Ruestman lunged at him. Bannister said he had gone to Ruestman's trailer to confront him and talk to him about drug transactions. "I am guilty, but only of second-degree murder. That crime is not punishable by death." While on death row, Bannister was supported by an international anti-death penalty following which has continued following his execution through the International Bannister Foundation.

Citations:
State v. Bannister, 680 S.W.2d 141(Mo. 1984) (Direct Appeal).
Bannister v. State, 726 S.W.2d 821 (Mo.App. S.D. 1987) (PCR).
Bannister v. Armontrout, 4 F.3d 1434 (8th Cir. 1993) (Habeas).
Bannister v. Delo, 100 F.3d 610 (8th Cir. 1996) (Habeas).

Internet Sources:

Capital Punishment in Missouri from Missouri.Net

In August 1982, Alan Jeffrey Bannister lived near Peoria, Illinois, with Ronald Rick Wooten. Wooten asked Bannister if he would like to make some money by killing a man. When Bannister expressed interest, Wooten explained that a man whose wife left him for another man wanted to have the latter killed. According to the plan, Bannister would receive $4000 to commit the murder, $1500 in advance and the gun and transportation. Wooten subsequently gave Bannister a note, upon which was written: "Darrell Ruestman, Shady Lane Mobile Home Park, Joplin, Missouri." The plan thus completed, Bannister left by bus for Joplin.

On August 20, 1982, Darrell Ruestman was living in a Joplin trailer park with Linda McCormick, then married to Richard McCormick. That afternoon Bannister arrived in town, registered at a motel under a different name. He paid in advance for two days, and then visited the trailer park. He returned to the park on the following day, when he befriended a resident, Glenn Miller. When Ruestman and McCormick arrived at home that evening, McCormick observed Bannister and Miller sitting in front of the Miller trailer, next to that occupied by Ruestman and McCormick. Later in the evening, McCormick again observed the two men in the vicinity of the trailer she shared with Ruestman. McCormick retired, and awoke at approximately 10:00 p.m. to the sound of knocking at the trailer door. When Ruestman answered the door, he was shot, and died before the police arrived.

At approximately 3:30 a.m. the next morning, Bannister took a taxicab to the bus station, where he was arrested by Joplin and Newton County police officers for the murder of Darrell Ruestman. Bannister was placed in a lineup and was positively identified by McCormack and two other witnesses as the man seen near the Ruestman trailer shortly before the murder. In subsequent statements to the police, Bannister revealed various details of the crimes and led officers to certain physical evidence, including the murder weapon and the torn-up note with the victimís name on it.

Chronology:

1982
08/12 - Alan Bannister shoots and kills Darrell Ruestman in Joplin, Missouri (Newton County)
09/14 - Bannister is charged by information with capital murder.

1983
02/03 - Bannister is tried in the Circuit Court of McDonald County on a change of venue from Newton County.
02/03 - The jury finds him guilty of capital murder and recommends capital punishment as the sentence.
03/10 - A motion for a new trial is denied and Bannister is sentenced to death.
03/15 - A notice of appeal is filed.

1984
11/20 - The Missouri Supreme Court affirms Bannisterís conviction and sentence.

1985
04/01 - The U.S. Supreme Court denies certiorari review.
07/12 - Bannister files Rule 27.26 motion for post-conviction relief in Circuit Court.
12/17 - The Circuit Court denies post-conviction relief.

1986
07/26 - Missouri Court of Appeals for Southern District affirms denial of relief.

1987
07/26 - Bannister files petition for habeas corpus in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
07/19 - Petition is dismissed without prejudice.

1988
02/02 - Bannister files second post-conviction relief motion in Circuit Court.
04/12 - Second post-conviction motion is denied by Circuit Court.
04/13 - A notice of appeal is filed.
09/01 - Missouri Supreme Court affirms the denial of relief.
10/28 - U.S. District Court reopens the habeas litigation.

1991
08/23 - U.S. District Court denies petition for writ of habeas corpus.

1992
04/30 - U.S. District Court denies the Motion to Reconsider.
05/29 - Bannister appeals denial of habeas relief.

1993
09/24 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirms the denial of relief.

1994
10/31 - The U.S. Supreme Court declines review.
11/01 - The State requests the Missouri Supreme Court to set an execution date.
11/15 - The Missouri Supreme Court sets December 7, 1994, as Bannisterís execution date.
11/29 - Bannister files a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court.
11/30 - The U.S. District Court issues a stay of execution on Bannisterís 1987 petition of habeas corpus.
12/2 - The U.S. District Court vacates its November 29 stay of execution. 1995
01/27 - The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals remands the case to the District court.
09/15 - The U.S. District Court denies relief.

1996
11/14 - The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the denial of relief.

1997
06/27 - The U.S. Supreme Court denies review of the case.
09/24 - The Missouri Supreme Court sets an execution date of October 22, 1997.

Chillicothe Independent

"Organizers Meet with Bannister Family," by Karen Moewe.

Little did the family of Alan Bannister know as they grieved the loss of their son and brother that so many people around the world shared in their sorrow. Native Chillicothean Alan Bannister was executed by lethal injection by the State of Missouri Oct. 22, 1998. He had been on that state's death row for 15 years. He had spent most of that time battling to get a new trial. His court appointed attorney had presented only one hour of defense on his behalf and didn't allow him to testify. All of his requests for a new trial were denied by procedural bars. His side of the story was never heard in a court of law.

The Bannisters knew Alan corresponded with literally thousands of people but one in particular would take his case and make it an international cause. Pam Rodger of Scotland began writing to Alan Bannister after reading the book Execution Protocol. Written by filmmaker Stephen Trombley the book and mention of Alan Bannister got Rodger's attention. According to Alan's sister Adele, Pam Rodger didn't like the way to book ended. She didn't think the author would write to her so she did the wrote to Alan Bannister because his address was listed in the back of the book. Much to her surprise, Alan did write back. They began corresponding regularly and an almost immediate friendship was struck. "We were both pro capital punishment at one time," Pam Rodger said of she and her husband's opinion of the subject. "Alan taught us an awful lot about corruption of the system. It's not the justice system it's the injustice system," Pam Rodger said. Pam and Tom Rodger spent last week with the Bannister family in Speer.

Pam Rodger was the first person to talk with Alan Bannister after he learned Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan wouldn't commute his sentence. She said that Alan had tried to comfort her in the telephone call. He asked her to think of him every now and then and try to carry on where he had left off. The night of the execution Pam and Tom waited to hear anything about the execution. When they learned that he had been executed Pam was deeply saddened by the death of her friend, Tom became very angry about what the system had allowed to happen. The two fueled their efforts in to the International Bannister Foundation. They waited six months after the execution to contact the Bannister family and ask permission to use Alan's name. "We wanted to allow the family time to grieve," Tom Rodger explained. Alan's mother, Alice and sister, Adele, made the trip last year to Scotland to visit the couple and see first had the work that they had done. This year the Rodgers came to the United States to visit several of the inmates that they refer to as "Our boys."

The Rodgers regularly correspond with 20 men on death row. Their foundation has reached several countries. Their internet site, claims, "We are not what the media term as "do-gooders", we are not seeking the guilty parties to be let out of prison to walk on our streets again, but to incarcerate them for a term of imprisonment suitable for the crime they have committed without the barbaric method of the death penalty hanging over them." The Bannisters thanked the Rodgers, Saturday as the family gathered at their Alice and Bob's home. Adele Bannister presented Pam and Tom Rodger with bracelets with International Bannister Foundation on the front and "Thanks for your efforts and dedication" on the back. For more information about the International Bannister Foundation, and their goals and objectives visit their web site at: www.ibf.brum.net/enter.htm.

ABOLISH Archives

I attended the protest of the execution of Alan Bannister about two weeks ago. Here is the news report of the death in case you missed it:

Alan J. Bannister, a small-time hit man who attracted little notice until a British filmmaker made him an international cause, was executed today at the Potosi Correctional Center. Bannister, 39, was pronounced dead at 12:05 a.m. Tim Kniest, a corrections spokesman, read a statement from Bannister: "The state of Missouri is committing as premeditated a murder as possible, far more heinous than my crime."

Bannister was condemned in 1983 for shooting a man outside a mobile home in Joplin, Mo. He had been on death row longer than any of the 88 condemned inmates in two Missouri prisons. He was the sixth person to be executed in Missouri this year. On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Mel Carnahan rejected Bannister's bid for clemency, saying, "It is my firm belief that Alan J. Bannister is guilty of first-degree murder."

Tuesday night, about a dozen protesters gathered outside the Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City, unsuccessfully urging Carnahan to spare Bannister. Earlier in the day, the U.S. Supreme Court, without dissent or comment, denied Bannister's request for an emergency stay of execution.

Bannister spoke to reporters by telephone, ordered a ribeye steak and baked potato for his last meal and visited with his wife, Lindsay, an Englishwoman who married him after she saw him portrayed on a television documentary in 1992.

Until filmmaker Stephen Trombley of London profiled Bannister in a film called "Execution Protocol," Bannister's appeals drew scant attention. But the film, and a sequel Trombley made about Bannister's life, inspired protests by opponents of capital punishment from Great Britain to Australia. Among the Americans who sought clemency were actors Ed Asner and Sean Penn and singer Harry Belafonte. Asner went to Jefferson City on Monday to plead the case, but Carnahan wouldn't meet with him.

Veteran opponents of capital punishment in Missouri held vigils Tuesday in St. Louis, Kansas City and outside the prison, which is 60 miles south of St. Louis. Tuesday night, about 60 protesters - some of them Bannister's relatives - stood vigil outside the prison fence. Lindsay Bannister spoke briefly to reporters. "I am going to be a widow in a few hours," she said. Pointing to the prison, she said: "That is the most hideous, cruel and barbaric system behind those walls. When I was with him, I was not allowed to touch him, I was not allowed to kiss him." "Tonight, we will have a new set of victims," she said. "I don't think that anyone in Missouri is safer with my husband being executed." Bannister spent part of Tuesday planning his funeral with the Rev. Larry Rice.

Bob Bannister of Sparland, Ill., Alan Bannister's father, was there with three of the condemned man's brothers and sisters and eight nieces and nephews. ". . . This is a night we've been expecting for a long time," he said.

Alan Bannister was on parole for rape in Illinois when he shot Darrell Ruestman once in the heart on Aug. 21, 1982, at the front door of Ruestman's trailer in Joplin. Investigators said a man from Peoria, Ill., whose wife had run off with Ruestman, hired Bannister to commit the killing for $4,000. Bannister grew up in Chillicothe, Ill., just north of Peoria. He said the .22-caliber pistol went off accidentally after Ruestman lunged at him. Bannister said he had gone to Ruestman's trailer to confront him about a drug deal. "I am guilty," Bannister said repeatedly, but only of second-degree murder. That crime is not punishable by death. Bannister said his original lawyer spoke with him only for an hour before the trial and presented no evidence on his behalf. But Joe Abromovitz, who was Newton County sheriff in 1982, said Bannister admitted that he had been hired as a hit man and led deputies to a torn piece of paper with Ruestman's address written on it. "Bannister did the hit," Abromovitz said.

Lindsay Bannister, who married Alan Bannister in 1993, has lived since then in Park Hills, about 20 miles east of Potosi, and helped direct the effort to save her husband. Lindsay Bannister said she was moved to write to Bannister when she watched Trombley's "Execution Protocol" in Cheltenham, England. His second documentary was called, "Raising Hell: The Life of A.J. Bannister." Trombley, 43, planned to be among the witnesses to the execution. He said he met Bannister through the man's defense lawyers in 1991 and "became intrigued by the facts of his story."

Some of Ruestman's relatives were at the prison Tuesday. Rodney Ruestman, coroner of Woodford County, Ill., and a brother of the victim, said, "Alan Bannister has victimized my family along with many other families in his horrendous life of crime." On Dec. 6, 1994, Bannister came within two hours and 20 minutes of being executed. That time, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to stay the execution. But after that, the courts rejected Bannister's appeals.

Friends for Life: A.J. Bannister

THE SHAME OF MISSOURI (The Execution of AJ Bannister)

There can be few Friends for Life Members who do not now know of the tragic death of our patron, Alan Jeffrey Bannister, who was executed by the State of Missouri on 22nd October this year. Governor Mel Carnahan refused to grant Alan clemency, despite the existence of considerable evidence supporting his assertion that his only crime was one of accidental killing - manslaughter or second degree murder at the most.

Furthermore, one of the original investigating officers wrote the governor a letter stating - amongst other grave concerns regarding the severity of Alan's sentence - that the investigation team were unable to come up with any proof supporting the prosecution's assertion that this was a contract killing [the aggravating factor which allowed them to call for execution]. Even given the usual political considerations which almost always influence clemency decisions, Carnahan had plenty of opportunity to spare Alan's life - the defense team were simply asking that the sentence be commuted to second degree life, so he could not claim that clemency would "endanger" the citizens of Missouri. Furthermore, Carnahan was not even running for the next term of office. An appeal for clemency was made in person to the Governor's office on 20th October. Amongst those present were Alan's mother, his wife, Lindsay and American celebrity and supporter, Ed Asner. Governor Carnahan was not present to hear this plea, appointing in his stead a representative of the governor's office.

The case was in the media spotlight as prominent US celebrities including Sean Penn, Gregory Peck and Harry Belafonte expressed support for Alan. As stated in one news bulletin - "Supporters had set up Web sites on the Internet about his case and flooded state officials with letters, faxes and e-mails from around the world. The State Attorney General's office said letters continued to pour in Tuesday and that no other capital punishment case in the state had received so much attention". It seems the Governor simply wanted to see the execution go ahead, despite world-wide opposition - even that of prominent US citizens and eminent US politicians and judges.

In his final words, Alan thanked all those who had supported him and strongly condemned the state for committing "as premeditated a murder as possible, far more heinous and deliberate than my crime.'' We must not allow Alan to be forgotten.

In closing, for the benefit of all those who cared about Alan we would like to quote from a couple of the letters he wrote as general addresses to his supporters.

"...I want to thank all of you for everything you've done. If the worst takes place, please do not second guess yourselves or abandon the fight against capital punishment....

....This world can become a better place, it already is, because of each of you, so please, do not give up hope. If my sentence is carried out, redouble your efforts to abolish capital punishment and fight all the other social ills which diminish us all as the human race." Nov. 1995.

"No matter what happens, we all did our best, and I know myself to be the luckiest man on this earth, to have been blessed with your friendship. Thank you, one and all". - Nov '96

They think that they can brush Alan Jeffrey Bannister under the carpet - but they can't. We cannot let Governor Carnahan, the State of Missouri or the US Federal government forget the events of 22nd October 1997 - and we must combine with the countless other groups which have independently come to the same conclusion. It is perhaps the most fitting tribute we as abolitionists can pay Alan, that his name become a cornerstone in the fight to destroy the corrupt and oppressive system which tried and failed to erase his name from the reckoning of the world. We have recently been very kindly told of the respect that Alan felt for Friends For Life. We therefore feel it appropriate to pay or own respects to him by retaining the honour of his patronage in memoriam. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to all of Alan's family and friends at this time of great loss.

PLEASE CONTINUE TO WRITE TO The Honorable Mel Carnahan, Governor of Missouri, Room 216 State Capitol, 206 West High Street, Jefferson City Missouri 65101, USA. Please also write to President Bill Clinton and The US Embassy in your country.

The Case

In 1982 Alan J. Bannister and Darrell Ruestman of Illinois were involved in a tragic accident that resulted in the death of Mr. Ruestman and the incarceration and near execution of Mr. Bannister. Alan now faces the danger of another execution date. The catalyst for this sequence of events was a drug dealer by the name of Ronald Wooten. What follows is their story, particularly that of A.J. Bannister, and is an attempt to raise awareness of the imminent possibility of that most extreme of miscarriages of justice, a wrongful execution.

The Crime

Alan Bannister has never denied killing Darrell Ruestman. He does, however, fervently deny having ever had any intention to do so.

In June of 1982 Alan Bannister was young, impetuous and unemployed. He was approached by Ronald Wooten with the offer of a cut in the profits of a cocaine deal if he consented to selling a quantity on the streets. Alan was intelligent but impressionable and was lured by the money this offer promised. After a week of working for Wooten, in his own words, Alan "....began to feel uncomfortable about doing this sort of thing, amongst other factors the fear of arrest for sales made me very uneasy". Alan had the opportunity to relocate to Arizona, an opportunity he took. He was still in possession of 21 grammes of Mr. Wooten's cocaine which he tried to return. He was unable to find the dealer and so left it with a mutual acquaintance. This acquaintance did not return the drugs immediately and Mr. Wooten (who had a notorious reputation for violence) assumed Alan had absconded with them. On July 9th Alan was stabbed 5 times in the back and left for dead in Phoenix, Arizona "...my attackers making certain that I knew why". Alan left hospital seven days later angry, bitter and confused. "I'd nearly lost my life over something I hadn't done. One positive thing came out of that assault, I became adamantly opposed to drugs of any description".

Alan returned to Illinois, In August 1982 he was attacked again; this time shot. He decided to confront Wooten. The dealer told him that he had received the missing drugs but it had been his supplier, who he named as Darrell Ruestman, who had ordered the stabbing. Wooten said Ruestman had fled from Illinois when he heard that Alan had survived. Alan decided to confront Darrell Ruestman. Wooten gave him Darrell Ruestman's address and a gun, warning that Ruestman "...always carries a gun and will shoot you on sight".

Alan freely admits "... my state of mind was not good at that time, I was wanting to cause him [Mr. Ruestman] to feel some of the pain I had felt. I initially considered shooting him in the knee but thought about an episode of "Magnum P.I.", in which a man was shot in the leg and bled to death, so I decided I couldn't do that. Next I thought of assaulting him with a club but could not find one. So I came up with the idea that I'd speak to him, point out what had happened with the drugs, and inform him that his so-called partner (Wooten) had given me his address". Through doing this Alan hoped to transfer the onus of the conflict where it belonged, between Wooten and Ruestman, thereby leaving himself free. We now reach the point at which the accident occurred. When Mr. Ruestman answered his door he grabbed Alan who panicked and reached back to grab his gun, barrel down, with his left hand (Alan is right handed) to swing at Mr. Ruestman's chin. Darrell Ruestman blocked the blow with his arm and the gun discharged. The bullet entered Mr. Ruestman's body at a downwards angle of 60 degrees.

The Trial

Alan was arrested and accused of carrying out an intentional contract murder. He was offered a plea bargain of life plus 50 years. "I refused this and exercised my constitutional right to a trial, I did this from the very start. I had been forthright about my guilt and the plea bargain offered was excessive to my degree of guilt". The trial of Alan Jeffrey Bannister lasted 4 days, during which he received virtually NO defense representation. Alan was fighting the system from the start. In the States, the higher officials in the judicial system are elected. With an 80% majority of the public in favour of capital punishment, it is politically advantageous for as many death sentences to be handed down as possible.

Because he was too poor to afford his own lawyer, the defense counsel he received was court appointed. Alan has stated "During the five months I was incarcerated prior to trial, the only time I ever saw my attorney was at the pre-trial motions. He made no effort to put up any sort of meaningful defense. Because of this, precious little truth was present at my trial". At the trial, the authorities claimed Alan had made incriminating statements; yet the statements that they testified to were not ones Alan had made. They made no explanation for the fact that they had take no written or taped confession. In short, fabricated statements were attributed to Alan in order to obtain his conviction. The jury were not told of the savage assaults he had been subjected to just weeks before the crime. Alan states "This evidence was readily available to my defense counsel but he neither investigated nor secured it".

In addition, a couple of the state's witnesses perjured themselves, claiming they would not have "known" it was a contract killing if Alan had not told them himself. Alan is emphatic on this point; "....they were telling outright lies. To start with, I said no such thing, but of far greater importance, I am in possession of the notes taken at the scene by Deputy Matthews. They clearly state that the victim's brother told the Joplin authorities that he thought it was a contract murder. He told them this a full six hours before I was arrested. I informed my public defender of this, he did not pursue it". At the trial the state portrayed Alan and Wooten as close friends. This was not the case; many people of Illinois, who would have testified to this effect contacted the public defender - "he didn't even bother to return their calls."

Other inconsistencies in the trial are also worth mentioning. A Sheriff, Mr. Abromovitz, in an inflammatory statement to the jury, testified that Alan had told of waiting at a specific point of a specific road "to watch the meatwagon [i.e. ambulance] go by". As Alan has stated - "This is wholly false; another of the state's witnesses positively identified me as being 26 blocks away [from the ambulance] at virtually the same time". In an attempt to explain the bizarre angle of the wound, the prosecution misled the jury by telling them that Alan was ambidextrous. This is completely false; Alan is strictly right handed. Perhaps the worst of the prosecution's knowingly misleading claims was that Alan had "probably killed a second man that night"; but this man was actually listed as a potential witness and, of course, was very much alive, and as far as Friends For Life are aware, is still so today.

Alan attempted to give a written statement. The authorities refused to accept this. As he says, "They had portrayed me as a cold blooded 'contract killer', yet they had no explanation why, if this was the case, the victim was not shot a second or third time with complete accuracy". After a misleading, fabricated, prosecution with virtually no defense representation, Alan was found guilty of capital murder on February 3rd 1983 and formally sentenced to death on March 10th.

1983 to 1997

Alan J. Bannister is no longer the impetuous, impressionable youth of 12 years ago who found himself on the wrong side of the tracks and involved in the tragic death of Darrell Ruestman. Since the accident occurred, he has been deeply remorseful for his part in it. "I have my dues to pay. I have never denied my part in all of this, nor have I ever claimed to be innocent. I am responsible for the loss of Darrell Ruestman's life but I did not intentionally kill him. Living these past 12 years with nightmares of that night so long ago, there is no sadder or sicker feeling than knowing that I have taken a life. But the sentence of death which I was given is vastly excessive to the crime I committed".

The Alan J. Bannister of 1997 is a sober, reflective man of responsibility, intelligence and integrity - evidence of which is rife in his every day words and deeds. To execute him would be to waste a human life that has much to offer and benefit society.

During Alan's 12 plus years on death row he has been the subject of two films regarding capital punishment. In both of these he has been vehemently and vocally critical of the U.S. judicial system. The authorities do not like this. After his appearance in "The Execution Protocol" he was locked up in solitary confinement. This did not scare him away from speaking out in the recent BBC Fine Cut film, "Raising Hell".

In December of 1994 Alan came to within 2 hours of execution. The film "Raising Hell" highlighted Alan's story, the inconsistencies in his trial, and filmed (with their full permission) his wife and his mother as they maintained vigil outside the prison walls in those last few hours. This final sequence of the film was deeply disturbing and brought into sharp relief the mental torture that capital punishment inflicts not only upon the condemned but also, at the very least in equal measure, upon the condemned's loved ones. The scenes depicting this tense vigil were, quite literally, unbearable. The sense of relief and jubilation as the viewer learnt that Alan had received a stay of execution was overpowering. Friends For Life urge anyone who is unsure or in favour of capital punishment to view "Raising Hell". As a result of the publicity surrounding Alan's case, the state of Missouri was forced to acknowledge that there were still discrepancies in the prosecution's "case". He was therefore granted a stay.

In September of 1995, his plea for an evidentiary hearing was turned down by a Missouri Western District judge, Judge D. Brook Bartlett; the same judge who vacated (i.e revoked) one of Alan's stays in December of 1994. The evidentiary hearing was refused on the grounds that the judge did not believe the evidence would be credible; begging the question - How could a decision on the credibility of evidence be made without a full and thorough examination in a court of law ? It is interesting to note that this same judge granted an 11 day evidentiary hearing to a former Attourney General of Missouri, William Webster, who had pleaded guilty to a charge of embezzlement fraud involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. The purpose of this hearing was to decide whether to sentence the former Attourney General to 18 or 24 months imprisonment.

Alan now faces the possibility of yet another execution date and stands to lose his life over a 1st degree murder that he vehemently denies, and when there is substantial unheard evidence to back up his claims. Yet still he has been refused an evidentiary hearing, despite an indefinite stay granted as the result of Oral Arguments which took place on 15th November 1995.

We shall leave the final words of this account to Alan himself: "I'm feeling a bit punch drunk right now, having been taken to the brink a mere 9 months ago and seeing what it did to [my wife] and my mother. I don't want to put them through that again, but that's out of my control it seems." -A.J.B, Sept. 1995 [upon receiving the news of an earlier possible execution date].

A letter from Marshall J. Matthews, investigating officer in the Bannister case, to Governor Mel Carnahan. (October 1, 1997)

Dear Mr. Governor,

At about 10:20 P.M. Saturday August 21, 1982 I was dispatched to the Shady Lane Mobile Home Park at 4720 South Rangeline in Joplin, Newton County Missouri, to investigate the report of a shooting. Upon my arrival at lot #6, I found the body of Darrell Ruestman; he may have died a minute before I got there, or when I was checking his body for signs of life. As the investigating officer my thoughts at that time were not of killing whoever did this, but to capture that person or persons without myself or anyone else getting hurt. Seven hours later, I handcuffed Alan Bannister at the Continental Trailways Bus Station in Joplin and advised him he was under arrest for investigation of murder.

What happened after that to Bannister is well known throughout the State of Missouri and to yourself Mr. Governor: He was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, lost each of his appeals and was nearly executed on one occasion. And now as I write this letter to you, he awaits his execution date of October 22, 1997.

The road I chose to follow led me away from the Newton County Sheriff's Department in 1985 to continued public service in the areas of Defense Aerospace Security, again to local law enforcement, and for the last four years, in Social Work. I direct a probation / social rehab program for the Domestic Division of the 18th Judicial District in Wichita, Kansas. I never left law enforcement completely, and still serve on the Sheriff's Department in my community in a part time capacity. I also remain a supporter of capital punishment, in instances that I feel it is justified.

Mr. Governor, I'm writing this letter to you trusting that as a man of reason, conscience and wisdom, you will spare the life of Alan Bannister. I pray that you consider with objectivity, my convictions concerning this grave issue. I am aware that my appeal to you goes against the position of many people in the Missouri law enforcement community including those I've served with. I am aware that the perception of some of those people is that I am betraying their efforts (in which I played a direct role). I am also aware that what I'm doing is right and just.

Mr. Governor, I am making this appeal to you from six areas of concern based in fact, based in substance and based in reason.

THE CRIME - The officers involved in the investigation including myself, questioned from the very beginning the means Bannister employed which resulted in the death of Mr. Ruestman. What kind of "hit man" travels by bus, uses a badly damaged firearm, and lets himself be observed throughout the day by numerous people at the scene of the crime? Why was the victim's wound a downward angled contact wound instead of a direct fire wound? These facts, in my mind, call into question the State's version of how this crime was committed.

THE CONFESSION - In an extraordinary departure from established Department procedure, there was no tape recorded or signed confession indicating the crime was the result of a contract or conspiracy. These tools of evidence were utilized in all investigations whether misdemeanor or felony crimes had been committed. The absence of any taped or signed confession supports Bannister's claim that he never confessed to a "contract killing".

THE CHANGE OF VENUE - Many people involved in the investigation and prosecution hoped that the Defense motion for change of venue would result in the transfer of the trial to McDonald County , and were rejoiced when it was; after all, it was generally felt that this was the only location a jury would almost with certainty sentence Bannister to death.

THE LACK OF DEFENSE - Even those of us involved in the investigation began to see sense that justice would not be served by the appointment of the Circuit Public Defender to represent Bannister. Although the attorney was well liked and respected, he had no experience in preparing for, assisting or presenting the kind of defense Bannister was Constitutionally guaranteed. The attorney seldom contacted Bannister, had no budget for any defense investigative work, had no legal assistant to help with the case work, and lacking those resources was unable to perform that work himself. In fact he was burdened with a huge caseload of misdemeanor and felony defense cases while he was attempting to defend Bannister. We might have wanted to see Bannister convicted, but we were ashamed for the limitations of our State's legal system. During the trial we saw, and were embarrassed to see that Bannister did not receive adequate representation. This may be insignificant to those in the Appellate process, but did not go unnoticed by those of us who depend on the protection guaranteed by our Constitution.

THE SENTENCE COMPARED TO THE OFFENSE - Mr. Governor, since I began my service in law enforcement in 1977, I have seen horrors and tragedies I will never be able to forget, nor does any law enforcement officer, firefighter or paramedic; these things will always be a part of our work. And yet, I have seen crimes that although had more aggravating and terrible circumstances surrounding them, have not only not resulted in the death penalty but haven't even resulted in life sentences. Bannister's crime does not justify the death penalty, because the aggravated circumstance "murder for hire" was never proved at trial, just suggested.

HOW WE HAVE CAPITALIZED ON THE DEATH OF DARRELL RUESTMAN - Bannister's arrest was the result of outstanding cooperation between Newton County Sheriff's Dept. and the Joplin Police Dept., and superb police work by all the officers involved. Yet I am sorry to say that some officers involved in the investigation including myself, have used the tragic death of Darrell Ruestman to further our own positions. It seems one of the investigators sold his knowledge about the case to a "Detective Magazine" Another refers to "how he solved the crime and captured Bannister" when he campaigns for elected office. I myself have offered my account of the criminal investigation and trial in both college presentations and police training classes.

This letter has been lengthy Mr. Governor, but by it I have attempted to convey to you points of reason, perhaps points of morality that you should consider. Let us grieve for the loved ones who survive Darrell Ruestman. Let us not, however, grieve for the loss of a life that could be and should be saved. We never proved that this was a contract killing, and that is the element missing from the justifiable use of the death penalty. May God grant you the strength of wisdom and the assurance of mercy in your decision to lift the sentence of death from Alan Bannister, and keep him imprisoned for life.

Most Respectfully Yours,

Marshall J. Matthews,
Wichita, Kansas

. . . Shall Suffer Death

"The State of Missouri is committing as premeditated a murder as possible, far more heinous and deliberate than my crime. Thank you to all of you who have supported me." - Last words of Alan Jeffrey Bannister.

Alan J. Bannister had been on Death Row in Missouri since March 10, 1983. He has never denied killing Darrell Reustman during a struggle. Alan was initially offered a life term,but rejected this because he was not guilty of a first degree offense. The prosecuting attorney portrayed this as a contract killing in order to get special circumstances for the death penalty. There was never any evidence of this- only an arresting officer's testimony of an alleged confession that he did not even write down. It is very suspicious that this was enough to warrant the death penalty, but not enough to charge another person with the hiring. They know there is no evidence of a contract killing. This is why nobody else was ever charged in connection to this crime. Alan was never paid by anyone. Ray Gordon, Alan's appointed "public defender" now serves as judge in Missouri. His conduct in Alan's trial contradicts the Constitution of the United States. He offered no defense and spent less than an hour with Alan before the trial took place. Alan had a hearing to determine if he had adequate counsel, his counsel was a good friend of Ray Gordon!!

The International Bannister Foundation

The International Bannister Foundation was set up in memory of Alan Jeffrey (A.J.) Bannister on the 22nd October 1997, who was sentenced to death by way of MANUAL Lethal Injection in Missouri. A.J. as he was better known, was on death row for over 15 years, constantly fighting the American Justice System for a retrial, as most of the evidence in court was circumstantial, and evidence that should have been submitted in court, was not. A.J. was not only fighting for himself, but also for other inmates on the injustice of the American Judicial System, in an attempt to set a precedence to correct the system. The International Bannister Foundation is set up with the kind written permission of Alan's family (mother, father, brother's and sister's). The foundation is a membership organization, we are NOT political, colour prejudice or a religious group, we are MAINLY an ANTI-CAPITAL and PRO-HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION and SUPPORT group. We comfort and support, inmates, inmates families, inmates of whom their human rights have been violated and we also support our own membership if an execution is imminent. If you would like to order the book "SHALL SUFFER DEATH" by A.J. Bannister, please go to the Items for Sale.

A.J. Bannister has spent 13 years on Missouri's Death Row. On December 6, 1994, he ate his last meal and said good-bye to his family and friends. The man who had captured the attention and earned the respect of millions throughout the world, was sitting within feet of the execution chamber, waiting to be put to death. A.J.' life and his case are the subject of the film documentary "RAISING HELL"; his ability to articulate his viewpoint with extraordinary clarity has led to countless interviews world-wide. He has systematically confounded the popular image of a "death row inmate."

This book examines the American Criminal Justice System and the political forces at work behind it. A.J. has never denied his involvement in the crime which resulted in the death of another human being. However, pivotal to the severity of his sentence is a shocking combination of official incompetence, perjury and the violation of constitutional rights. In 1994, A.J. Bannister received a last minute stay of execution. As this book went to press, he remained under the sentence of death.

On the 22nd October, 1997, A.J. Bannister was executed by manual lethal injection. From that day to this, the Co-founders of The International Bannister Foundation, along with A.J.'s immediate family (mother, father, brother's and sister's), started the foundation to carry on where A.J. left off, fighting the injustice of the American Judicial System and of the Human Rights of all inmates, whether they are on death row or general population, this was A.J.'s last living and written statement to his friends.

To order your copy of "Shall Suffer Death", send $15.00 plus $2.50 for shipping and handling (UK Total = £11.00) to: Send a cheque (check)/International Money Order made out to "The Bannister Foundation".

Contrary to accusations made by Lindsay Graham Bannister that the IBF, in part or in whole, are profiteering from the sale of the above book are unfounded. Proof of this statement can be produced in any Court of Law anywhere in the world by the IBF and Biddle Publishing/Audenreed Press. The IBF receive no proceeds whatsoever from the sale of the above book.