Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Shotgun Slaying of Bruce and Darlene Rouse

Going Back Home

Faced with a more serious case than bank robbery, Key West authorities agreed to drop their charges and allow Billy to be extradited to Illinois. He arrived back home on Oct. 14, 1995, a day after his confession. He was immediately charged with double murder, but because he had been 15 years old at the time, prosecutors had to file the case in juvenile court.

William Rouse
William Rouse

The next week he went before a judge with his attorney from the Public Defender's Office. Sporting long hair past his shoulders and a goatee, "William," 31, looked out of place in a child's courtroom. He pleaded not guilty and was held without bail. Prosecutors filed a petition to have the case transferred to adult court, where William could receive life in prison. If convicted and sentenced as a juvenile, he would receive only 30 days in jail. His attorney opposed the transfer, saying juvenile court would be able to offer psychological treatment and a lengthy probation.

Two weeks later, the judge decided that William should be tried as an adult. "It's in the best interest of the [defendant] and the public that the transfer occur," Judge Margaret Mullen was quoted by the Chicago Tribune as saying.

Now the defense had a big problem. The 37-minute videotaped confession in which an unkempt William cursed and showed his disdain for his mother would surely sink him. A motion was filed to keep it out of trial. David Brodsky, the chief public defender of Lake County, claimed that William had been coerced and wasn't in a fully rational frame of mind when he gave the interview. Brodsky knew that without the tape, there would be no trial. No other evidence existed.

The court ruled that the tape would stay in. Trial would begin July 31, 1996 — 16 years after Bruce and Darlene had drawn their last breaths.

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