Saturday, July 05, 2008

Judge halts Bower's execution

From the Houston Chronicle:

State District Judge Jim Fallon this week withdrew the July 22 execution date for Lester Leroy Bower to consider a request from Bower's lawyers for DNA testing of cigarette butts and other items recovered from the slaying scene outside Sherman, north of Dallas.

Grayson County prosecutors are opposing the request.

Bower, now 60, is among the longest-serving prisoners on death row in Texas. He was condemned in 1984, seven months after authorities found the four victims shot execution-style inside a hangar on a ranch owned by one of the victims.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his conviction and death sentence, clearing the way for his punishment to be carried out.

Bower has maintained his innocence in the October 1983 shooting deaths of 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.

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 the men while stealing the plane.

Bower initially lied to authorities about his presence at the hangar, then recanted. But he insisted when he left, the men at the ranch were alive.

Five years after his trial, a woman implicated four other men in the case, saying it was the result of a drug deal gone bad. Prosecutors have disputed that story.

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