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Missouri inmate, subject of documentary, is executed

A death-row inmate who won celebrity sympathy was executed early Wednesday for killing the lover of a woman whose husband paid $4,000 to end the relationship.

"The state of Missouri is committing as premeditated a murder as possible," Alan J. Bannister, 39, said in a final statement after appeals were rejected Tuesday.Originally from Chillicothe, Ill., Bannister was convicted in 1983 of killing Darrell Ruestman of Joplin a year earlier.

Ruestman died from a single shot to his heart after answering a knock at the front door of his mobile home. Prosecutors said Bannister had been hired for $4,000 and given a pistol to kill Ruestman, who was living with another man's wife.

Bannister admitted killing Ruestman, but said the gun went off accidentally during a scuffle. He said he should have been convicted of nothing worse than second-degree murder, which isn't punishable by death, but a bungled defense led to a guilty verdict.

An Illinois businessman was indicted on murder solicitation charges a month after the 1982 slaying. Ruestman was living with the man's wife.

The man eventually was convicted of lesser charges, served 90 days in jail and paid $10,000 to Ruestman's estate to settle a civil lawsuit.

The case received considerable attention. Bannister was the subject of two documentaries by London-based filmmaker and death penalty opponent Stephen Trombley.