Last night, June 3, 2015, the State of Texas carried out its eighth execution of the year, putting Lester Bower Jr. to death more than 31 years after his conviction. Bower was sentenced to death for the murder of four men – Jerry Brown, Bob Tate, Philip Good and Ronald Mayes – at an ultra-light airplane hangar near Sherman in 1983.
Bower faced six previous execution dates. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed his execution but later declined to consider his appeal. Bower’s attorneys had asked the Court to consider whether executing a defendant whom has served more than 30 years on death row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, among other issues. The Court rejected his last request for a stay of execution, providing no explanation for its ruling.
Sentenced to death in Grayson County in 1984, Bower was one of the state’s longest serving death row inmates and, at age 67, he was the oldest person put to death in Texas. A former chemical salesman with no prior criminal history, Bower consistently maintained his innocence. Read more about his case in this interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and from The Guardian.
Texas accounts for 8 of the 15 executions nationwide to date in 2015. At this time, Missouri is the only other state scheduled to carry out executions; it accounts for three excutions this year. Texas and Missouri are the only states that have put people to death since January of this year. Texas is scheduled to execute Gregory Russeau on June 18, 2015.