Amid Doubts, Texas Executes Oldest Death-Row Inmate

Lester Bower fought sentence for 31 years
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2015 1:20 AM CDT
Amid Doubts, Texas Executes Oldest Death Row Inmate
In this undated photo provided by the Grayson County District Clerk's office, Lester Leroy Bower is shown.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

More than 30 years after Lester Bower was sentenced to die for a quadruple murder, Texas has finally carried out the sentence. The 67-year-old, the oldest prisoner on the state's death row, was executed hours after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal, ABC News reports. Prosecutors said that in 1983, Bower shot contractor Bob Tate to steal an ultralight aircraft, then killed three other men who unexpectedly arrived at the hangar, reports Reuters. But Bower always maintained his innocence, and his execution was stayed six times, most recently in February. "Much has been written about this case, not all of it has been the truth," he said in his final statement. "But the time is over and now it is time to move on." He was pronounced dead at 6:36pm yesterday.

When Bower was arrested, he was working as a chemical salesman, had no criminal record, and was married with two daughters. In his appeals, his lawyers argued that there was no hard evidence connecting him to the crime and the killings had actually occurred after a drug deal gone wrong, the Guardian reports. His lawyers also argued that the long time Bower spent on death row constituted cruel and unusual punishment, but state officials countered that his claims were a "meritless attempt to postpone his execution" and the length of time on death row was "purely of his own making" because he had spent so long fighting his conviction in the courts, reports the Washington Post. (In 2010, a 94-year-old death row inmate in Arizona died of old age.)

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