"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Texas executes Lester Bower

Lester Bower
Lester Bower
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The execution of a 67-year-old man who was convicted of killing four men more than three decades ago was carried out on Wednesday evening after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-day appeal to halt the lethal injection.

Bower was pronounced dead at 6:36 p.m. CDT.

Lester Bower Jr. becomes the oldest prisoner executed in the most active death penalty state since the punishment was reinstated in 1982.

He was convicted of the October 1983 fatal shootings of four men at an airplane hangar on a ranch near Sherman, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of Dallas. Prosecutors say he killed the four after stealing an airplane that he had been trying to buy from one of his victims.

“I do have remorse,” Bower, who has maintained his innocence, told The Associated Press two weeks ago from death row. “I’m remorseful for putting my family and my wife and my friends through this.

“If this is going to bring some closure to them (the victim’s family), then good. But if they think by this they’re executing the person that killed their loved one, then that’s going to come up a little bit short.”

Bower becomes the eighth inmate given a lethal dose of pentobarbital this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state.

His attorneys told the high court that jurors didn’t have the opportunity in their punishment deliberations to fully consider that Bower had no previous criminal record. Attorneys also contended that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals used an incorrect legal standard when it denied an appeal for Bower a decade ago.

Stephen Hoffman, an assistant Texas attorney general, responded that 30 years of litigation was enough and justice already had been delayed “for the four families of the men that Bower slaughtered in cold blood.”

The Supreme Court declined in March to review Bower’s case — although three justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, said they would have thrown out his death sentence. But about three hours before he was to be taken to the death chamber, the Supreme Court denied his renewed late appeal.

Bower, a chemical salesman from Arlington, was arrested and charged with capital murder after the four men were found Oct. 8, 1983.

Lawyers have made numerous appeals questioning his conviction with no incriminating fingerprints found at the crime scene, no murder weapon recovered and no witness to the crime.

Investigators said they found parts from Tate's airplane at Bower's residence and that he had made calls to Tate. They said Bower, who also sold firearms, had acquired a gun and exotic ammunition similar to what was used in the killings.

In an interview published this week in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bower, who had no criminal record prior to his arrest, said he did not commit the crimes and was wrongly convicted.

"What's more, I feel we have had a reasonable number of people come forward with credible stories to say I did not commit these murders," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Those killed were building contractor and B&B Ranch owner Bob Tate, 51; Grayson County Sheriff’s Deputy Philip Good, 29, who sold ultralights and was trying to sell one owned by Tate; Jerry Brown, 52, a Sherman interior designer; and Ronald Mayes, 39, a former Sherman police officer.

Sources: Reuters, The Associated Press, June 3, 2015

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