EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/94/94
UA 404/94 Death Penalty 17 November 1994
USA (Missouri) A J Bannister
Alan Jeffrey ("A J") Bannister is scheduled to be executed in Missouri on 7
December 1994. All avenues of legal appeal have been exhausted, and Mr
Bannister's lawyers have recently presented a petition for clemency to Governor
A J Bannister, white, was convicted of the murder-for-hire killing of
Darrell Ruestman, white, in August 1982. He was sentenced to death on 10 March
At trial, the prosecution's theory was that A J Bannister was a hired
"hit man", which was not refuted by the court-appointed defence. According
to the clemency petition, Mr Bannister received "woefully inadequate defence".
His court-appointed attorney, who met with him only about 3 or 4 times prior
to the trial, did little or no investigation of the facts surrounding the case,
and presented "absolutely no defense" during either the guilt or penalty phases
of the trial. The trial lasted just 3 days and the jury convicted him after
less than an hour of deliberation.
Investigations conducted since 1991 suggest that A J Bannister was not hired
to kill Ruestman, but was instead persuaded that Ruestman wanted to kill him
because of a mix-up over a drugs deal. Bannister visited Ruestman's home,
and shot him allegedly during a struggle.
A J Bannister's attorneys say that his execution would be disproportionate
to the nature of the crime, and a clear miscarriage of justice. They are calling
on Governor Carnahan to order a thorough investigation of the facts surrounding
the crime, and to consider the issue of inadequate defense counsel at trial,
which has never been addressed by any state or federal court because of a
procedural technicality. They claim that had this issue been considered it
"would have resulted in a new and fair trial".
As of 20 July 1994 there were 91 prisoners under sentence of death in Missouri.
The most recent person to be executed in the state was Frank Guinan, on 6
October 1994. The method of execution is lethal injection.
In Missouri, the Governor has final clemency authority; the Board of Pardons
and Paroles submits recommendations to the Governor.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English if possible:
- Expressing deep concern that A J Bannister is scheduled to be executed in
Missouri on 7 December 1994;
- Urging Governor Carnahan to grant clemency to A J Bannister by commuting
his sentence of death;
- Urging Governor Carnahan to review the facts of the case which were never