State of Missouri v. Leonard M. Laws

661 SW 2d 526 (Mo.banc 1983)

Leonard Laws was executed on May 17, 1990

Case Facts:  George Clifton Gilmore, his brother Norman, and Leonard Laws lived in a trailer with several members of the Gilmore family; all three men were unemployed. After some discussion, they decided the easiest way to make money would be to “rob old people.” They further agreed they would kill the victims in order to prevent them from identifying any of the three perpetrators.

Late in the evening of October 28, 1980, the three met and decided to rob Clarence and Lottie Williams. In the early morning hours of October 29, 1980, they went to the Williams’s home, roused Mr. Williams, and convinced him to open his front door. They took him to his bedroom where he and Mrs. Williams were bound with clothesline. After ransacking the home and taking several items to their vehicle, defendant and Norman returned to the Williams’ bedroom. Defendant shot Mr. Williams with a twelve gauge shotgun; he reloaded the weapon and then shot Mrs. Williams. Thereafter, kerosene was spread throughout the home. Mr. Williams had not been killed by the first shotgun blast and attempted to escape when he saw the kerosene being spread throughout his home. Defendant stopped the escape by shooting Mr. Williams a second time.

Several weeks after the murders, defendant discussed the crimes with two relatives, Robert Gilmore and Bobby DeClue. After confirming the story by a visit to the site of the Williams’s home and speaking to Norman Gilmore, DeClue and Robert Gilmore reported the incident to police and agreed to help apprehend the three perpetrators. On January 2, 1981, DeClue and Robert Gilmore tricked Leonard Laws and George Gilmore into leaving their trailer; they were then arrested at a police roadblock. Norman Gilmore was arrested at a house in Franklin County, Missouri.