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Wife not allowed to see husband before execution

September 02, 1999
By: FRANCIE KRANTZ
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Corrections Department is saying it was condemned mobster David Leisure's own fault that his wife missed his execution Wednesday morning.

Jeri Renee Leisure tried to be with her husband during his final moments, but prison officials denied her entry.

Tim Kniest, Corrections Department spokesman, said Mrs. Leisure was not on the final list of witnesses her husband submitted to prison officials.

"All of the people he wanted to be there witnessed the execution," Kniest said. Leisure asked that only his sister, a family friend, and his spiritual advisor be allowed to attend, Kniest said.

Earlier that evening, Mrs. Leisure was arrested by the Highway Patrol on charges of driving with a suspended license. Maj. Roger Stottlemyre of the Patrol said she was released an hour later after posting a $1500 bond.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Mrs. Leisure as saying her arrest was a "setup," and that she should have been allowed inside the prison because her husband needed her.

Kniest said Mrs. Leisure was permitted to visit her husband earlier in the day, but no one was allowed into the prison to see him after 7 p.m. that evening. Leisure was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m.

Repeated phone calls made Thursday to Mrs. Leisure and David Leisure's attorney, John W. Simon, were not returned.

Jerry Nachtigal, spokesman for Gov. Mel Carnahan, said the governor heard about Mrs. Leisure's arrest the morning after the execution but it would have made little difference in his decision to deny clemency.

"She had been briefed as to what time the execution was to take place and I don't think (her arrest) was any reason to put a stop it," he said.

Kniest said prison officials did exactly what they were supposed to do by keeping Mrs. Leisure away.

"It was up to the inmate to decide who he wanted to be there," he said. "He was able to see her during the day and he certainly had access to a telephone."