St. Louis Bomber to be put to Death

David R. Leisure, whose involvement in a series of car bombings and mob violence for control of LIUNA Local 110 in St. Louis, is scheduled to die by injection Sep. 1. He would be the first organized-crime figure executed since 1944, when Louis “Lepke” Buchalter was electrocuted in N.Y. Leisure was sentenced to death in 1987 for his role in the car bombing murder of mob boss James Michaels, Sr. The date was set by the Mo. Supreme Court on Aug. 3. Final legal pushes are under way to stop the execution.

Reportedly, Leisure helped kill Michaels so the Leisure family could gain power over LIUNA Local 110. Leisure was just one of many players in a mob feud that left three dead, one maimed and another wounded. Yet while many involved were convicted of state or federal crimes, none received the death penalty.

On Sep. 17, 1980, Leisure crawled beneath Michaels’ car and planted a remote-controlled bomb as the car was parked outside a church. Michaels was inside eating lunch. The state alleged that Leisure had practiced the technique several times on an identical car until he could do it flawlessly in under a minute. After planting the device, he was present when his cousin Anthony Leisure detonated the bomb on Interstate-55. Pieces of Michaels’ car were scattered over a 200-foot radius by the force of the explosion. Michaels’ body was dismembered; part was hurled against a passing car.

It took police years to unravel the story behind the crime and the retaliations that followed. To avenge Michaels’ murder, his family bombed the car of Leisure’s cousin Paul Leisure. He survived the attack, but it cost him part of his legs, hands and face. In retaliation for the bombing of Paul Leisure, the Leisure family killed George M. “Sonny” Faheen with a car bomb. Faheen was Michaels’ nephew. David Leisure was sentenced to life in prison for Faheen’s murder.

Leisure was convicted of federal racketeering charges in 1985. His state trial for Michaels’ murder was held in Mar. 1987. The jury took a little over five hours to find him guilty of capital murder. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch 8/4/99]