death penalty news—-TEXAS

April 21


Supreme Court turn down inmate convicted in slayings of 4

One of the state's longest-serving death row prisoners lost an appeal
Monday in the U.S. Supreme Court, moving him closer to punishment for the
shooting deaths of 4 men in North Texas almost a quarter-century ago.

Lester Bower, 60, has been on death row since 1984, a year after the
bodies of four men were found in an airplane hangar near Sherman in
Grayson County.

At least five previous attempts to execute him have been blocked by the

In August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction
and death sentence after a federal district judge allowed him to pursue
claims that his trial attorney was ineffective.

Monday, without comment, the Supreme Court upheld the 5th Circuit decision
by declining to review Bower's case.

Bower has maintained his innocence in the October 1983 shooting deaths af
Bob Tate, 51, a Denison building contractor; Ronald Mayes, 39, a former
Sherman police officer; Philip Good, 29, a Grayson County sheriff's
deputy; and Jerry Mac Brown, 52, a Sherman interior designer. The 4 men
were found shot execution-style in a hangar at Tate's ranch northeast of

Evidence showed parts of an ultralight plane missing from the hangar later
were found in Bower's garage in Arlington.

Prosecutors said Bower, a college graduate who worked as a chemical
salesman, killed Tate to steal the ultralight plane that was for sale for
$4,000. Authorities argued the 3 others were gunned down when they
unexpectedly showed up at the hangar.

Investigators looking at phone records determined Bower had responded to
an advertisement placed by Good, who was helping Tate find a buyer for the

Questioned by the FBI, Bower denied meeting Good or Tate and denied buying
the plane, according to court documents. But detectives searching Bower's
home found pieces of the plane and arrested him.

Bower had no previous criminal record and did not testify at his trial. At
an evidentiary hearing in 2000, he acknowledged meeting with Good, Brown
and Tate and buying the plane. He said he read about the slayings in a
newspaper but decided to not say anything because he didn't want to become
a suspect.

He does not have an execution date.

In a second Texas case Monday, the high court lifted a reprieve it granted
last year for Carlton Turner Jr., a Dallas-area man condemned for killing
his parents in 1998.

Turner won a stay of execution last year about 4 hours after he was
scheduled to be put to death in Huntsville. Justices stopped his
punishment in the wake of their decision to consider whether lethal
injection was unconstitutionally cruel.

Last week, in a 7-2 vote, the high court rejected the constitutional
challenge, clearing the way for executions to resume nationally and for
Turner's reprieve to be removed. Dallas County prosecutors said his
execution now likely will be set for sometime this summer.

(source: Associated Press)