Texas Executes 67-Year-Old Inmate Who Maintained His Innocence For Over 30 Years
Officials carried out the execution of Lester Bower Jr. Wednesday night at 6:36pm, making the 67-year-old inmate the oldest executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1982.
Bower was convicted of the October 1983 murders of four men at an airplane hanger near Sherman, TX, though Bower maintained his innocence during his entire incarceration and leading up to his sentence,
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.
According to Prosecutors, Bower killed the men over a dispute regarding a plane Bower was attempting to purchase. Pieces of the plane were found in Bower's possession after the bodies were discovered, but Bower maintained that though he saw the four men the day they died, they were alive when he left them and he legally purchased the plane parts, though no receipt could be provided. Bower's defense team, who worked Pro Bono for over twenty years, argued that the deciding jurors did not have the opportunity to consider that Bower had no previous criminal record in deciding his sentence, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals used an incorrect legal standard when they denied Bower's appeal a decade prior. Bower's defense team received information from the FBI years after the trial that one of the victims had been involved in drug trafficking, with witnesses identifying alternate suspects with corroborating stories.
Assistant Texas attorney general Stephen Hoffman maintained his belief in Bower's guilt, saying that thirty years of litigation was enough and justice was long overdue for the families of the victims. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Bower's case in March, and denied his last-minute appeal, though three Justices said they would have thrown out his death sentence.
Bower is the ninth inmate Texas has executed this year, and the oldest inmate to be put to death in the state since 1982, over a year older than William Chappell who would executed in 2002.