Twenty years ago on this date, January 6, 1994, Keith Wells was executed by lethal injection for the December 20, 1990 murders of John Justad and Brandi Rains. 17 years later, the sister of John Justad felt that justice was served. Surprisingly, the sister of Wells, still supports the death penalty. Unit 1012 still supports you both.
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Idaho's last execution; remembering the victims of Keith Wells
By Andrea Lutz
Posted on November 17, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Updated Friday, Nov 18 at 5:37 PM
BOISE --It has been 17 years since the last execution in Idaho. Keith Wells was put to death for the murders of two young people. At just 23 years old, John Justad had a life taken away too soon.
“He was the youngest of four children the only boy, very sweet just starting to get his life together would have done anything for anybody,” said Jan Englund.
John's sister Jan recalls the day; 21 years ago her brother was murdered. “He was beaten in the back of the head,” said Englund.
On a cold December night in 1990, John was at the Rose Pub working as a beer distributor, he was assisting 20 year old Brandi Rains in closing up the bar.
“Keith Wells came in the bar and followed my brother down the hall and beat him as he was standing in front of the bathroom,” said Englund.
After Keith Wells killed John, he also killed Brandi, because she witnessed the beating. Wells was found in April of 1991.
Jan said no one could understand the stress the crime had on her family at that time. “I feel very badly that my father went through all the pain that he did and died basically a week before he was sentenced so he never did see what the sentence was.”
In 1992 the sentencing for Keith Wells was death, media attention followed and Jan found herself speaking for those who couldn’t.
“Was there somebody that wasn't going to talk about the victims? Everybody was grieving differently somebody had to talk for them,” said Englund.
In January of 1994 Keith Wells was put to death by lethal injection.
“I don't want people to think we are vengeful or this is our way of getting back it’s just to have some sort of closure.”
For Jan, closure somehow came, and today she hopes the family members of Paul Rhoades' victims will also find closure when the execution is over and done.
“I just think that the public needs to take another look at how they feel about the death penalty and not be so critical of family members that have an opinion on it because you really don’t understand what we are going through,” said Englund.
In 1994, when Wells was executed Jan requested to be in the room, but she was denied that right because reporters, the Governor of Idaho and prison officials filled up the room.
And even though this sister lost her brother to an execution, it doesn't change her view on the death penalty.“I am still for the death penalty all the way,” she said. “I believe when people commit crimes, if they've been proven, they need to be executed right then. You shouldn't have to pay to keep them alive and breathing and eating and enjoying life, I think they should be executed.”