TEXAS—-new execution date
Execution date set for Lester Bower
Just days after the Supreme Court refused Lester Bower's request for a new
trial, Judge Jim Fallon signed a death warrant that could end Bower's life
on July 22.
Bower, 60, was convicted in April 1984 of killing Bob G. Tate, Phillip
Good, Ronald Mayes and Jerry Brown at the Tate Ranch near Sherman. The men
were discovered shot to death in an airplane hangar located on the Tate
Ranch, northeast of the city, on Oct. 8, 1983.
Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
decision that affirmed Bowers conviction in the deaths. The Supreme Court
justices didnt comment on the reasoning behind their decision.
The death warrant released Thursday by Grayson County District Attorney
Joe Brown said that Bower is to be executed "some time after the hour of 6
p.m. on July 22, 2008, by causing a substance or substances in a lethal
quantity to be intravenously injected into the body of (Bower) sufficient
to cause death, and until (Bower) is dead, obeying all laws of the State
of Texas with reference to such execution."
Grayson County District Clerk Tracy Powers signed the warrant as did
Bower has never wavered from the claim that he is innocent of the capital
murder charges that landed him on death row. When first questioned by
authorities about the killings, Bower said he had never met Mr. Tate, Mr.
Good, Mr. Mayes or Mr. Brown. However, the former salesman then said he
came to Sherman to talk about buying an ultralight aircraft that Mr. Tate
was selling. But Bower contends he did not kill anyone to get the craft.
Evidence at Bower's trial, and several hearings afterward, showed that
authorities found pieces of Tate's ultralight plane in Bower's garage in
Arlington during a search of his home. Mr. Tate had been trying to sell
the plane for around $4,000 at the time of his death.
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court decision upheld this week denied Bower's
request for a new trial based upon several factors relating to claims of
ineffective assistance of council claim and that the prosecution withheld
important evidence that should have been turned over to the defense.
The opinion said the justices found no merit to Bower's claim that his
attorney, Jerry Buckner, failed to provide a defense that reached the
level of what a professional attorney would present for someone charged in
a death penalty case.
Bower's appeal took aim at Buckner's trial strategy of pointing out the
prosecution's case was based on circumstantial evidence. That evidence
could not prove Bower was in Grayson County the day of the killings,
Buckner claimed in 1984. Buckner's strategy also rested on pointing out
that even though law enforcement officers found pieces of Bobby Tate's
ultralight at Bower's home, the prosecution couldnt prove that Bower
didn't, as he claimed, buy the small plane from a third party.
The appeal also took issue with the way Buckner prepared for the trial and
whom he chose to question during the trial. Furthermore, Bower's appeal
said he wanted to testify at his murder trial and Buckner would not allow
him to do so.
The justices who reviewed the appeal said that the claims Bower presented
did not rise to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel and refused
to grant him a new trial based on the way Buckner conducted the defense
portion of the trial.
Justices also rejected Bower's contention that the prosecution failed to
release to the defense information that would have made a difference in
the outcome of the case.
(source: Herald Democrat)