State of Missouri v. David Leisure

749 S.W.2d 366 (Mo. banc 1988)

David Leisure was executed on September 1, 1999.

Case Facts
: In early 1977, Ray Massud promised Anthony Leisure, cousin of David Leisure, that he would succeed Massud as the business manager of Local 110 of the Laborers Union in St. Louis. While in the hospital with a terminal illness, Massud changed his mind and asked Anthony Leisure to accept the position of assistant business manager so that his son, John Massud, could serve as business manager of the union. Leisure agreed to the new arrangement.

The agreement took effect on June 30, 1977 following Ray Massud’s death. Leisure would be in charge of hiring and firing union officers and John Massud would be in charge of the business office.

John Massud expanded his authority outside the original agreement and hired union officers without consulting Anthony Leisure. Massud hired Vince Giordano as a union organizer and Mike Trupiano as President of the Union. Both Giordano and Trupiano were related to Anthony Giordano, a rival of the Leisures who headed the Italian faction of the union. Angered by Massud’s actions, Anthony Leisure met with his brothers Paul and David along with Ronald Broderick, John Ramo and Charles Loewe to discuss whether they should kill Massud. They decided not to because of Massud’s political influence.

Citing financial problems, Massud announced that he planned to fire Ronald Broderick from his position as a union officer. Broderick was the only union official that Anthony Leisure had hired. Leisure again convened a meeting with his brothers, Broderick, Ramo and Fred Prator to discuss whether someone should be killed. Because the group feared the political connections of Massud and the war that would result if they killed a member of the Giordano family, they decided that to kill James Michaels Sr., the head of the Laborers’ Union in St. Louis. The group surmised that by killing Mr. Michaels they would strengthen their position in the union among the Syrian faction, headed by Mr. Michaels. The group also believed that Mr. Michaels had protected the murderer of David Leisure’s older brother Richard and that revenge was in order.

After an unsuccessful attempt to shoot Mr. Michaels at a St. Louis restaurant, the Leisures and their co-conspirators decided to bomb Mr. Michaels’ car. David Leisure and John Ramo stole a car similar to Michaels’ and practiced planting a bomb. David Leisure also followed Mr. Michaels to learn his habits.

On September 17, 1980 David Leisure spotted Mr. Michaels’ car in the parking lot of St. Raymond’s Church in St. Louis City. Anthony Leisure, Broderick and Ramo picked up a van that belonged to Broderick’s son. They drove the van to another location where they retrieved a radio-controlled bomb. They met David Leisure at the Church and parked the van next to Mr. Michaels’ car. David Leisure slid under the car and attached a bomb to it.

Mr. Michaels exited the church and talked with his grandson James for a short time. He then departed. The group followed in the van. They followed Mr. Michaels for a while and attempted to detonate the bomb with the radio control to no avail. Following Mr. Michaels on Interstate 55 the switch was again thrown and this time the bomb was detonated, demolishing Mr. Michaels’ automobile and throwing the upper torso of Mr. Michaels out of his car and onto the windshield of a vehicle following him.

The Leisures then took the van to Illinois where they washed it and returned to Missouri where they made further attempts to cleanse themselves and the van of traces from the explosion.

About one week later Paul Leisure met with the new leader of the Italian faction, John Vitale who had replaced the deceased Anthony Giordano. Leisure and Vitale agreed that the Syrians would control Local 110. Two relatives of Mr. Michaels were subsequently fired from their jobs with the union.

After an extensive investigation, which included law enforcement from St. Louis City and County and the federal government, David Leisure was arrested and charged with murder.

Legal Chronology:

9/17 – David Leisure planted a car bomb that was detonated resulting in the death of James Michaels Sr.

5/22 – David Leisure is indicted in St. Louis City Circuit Court for capital murder

4/2 – David Leisure’s trial begins in the St. Louis City Circuit Court.
4/9 – The jury returned a guilty verdict on the charge of capital murder and recommended a death sentence.
5/22 – David Leisure is sentenced to death by the circuit court.

4/19 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed Leisure’s capital murder conviction and death sentence.
5/18 – Leisure filed a motion for post-conviction relief.

2/4 – The circuit court held a hearing on Leisure’s motion for post-conviction relief.
3/4 – The circuit court denied Leisure’s motion for post-conviction relief.

3/24 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of post -conviction relief.
10/30 – Leisure filed a writ of habeas corpus petition in the United States District Court for Eastern District of Missouri.

1/13 – The United States District Court denied Leisure’s federal habeas corpus petition and denied him the required certificate of appealability for an appeal.

3/29 – The United States Supreme Court denied Leisure’s petition for writ of certiorari.
3/31 – The Missouri State Attorney General moved for an execution date in the Missouri State Supreme Court.
8/3 – The Missouri Supreme Court sets September 1, 1999 as Leisure’s execution date.