Texas Just Executed Its Oldest Death Row Inmate
Lester Bower Jr., the oldest man on death row in Texas, was executed Wednesday night. At 67 years old, Bower was the oldest inmate to be killed by the state since it reinstituted capital punishment in 1976. Convicted of murdering four men in 1983, Bower spent a little over three decades on death row.
The execution came shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal for a stay submitted by Bower’s lawyers. Bower maintained his innocence throughout his three-decade incarceration, and attempted to present what he claimed was new exculpatory evidence in his defense. In an interview with the Arlington Star-Telegram (which has a lengthy piece on the details of the case), he again stated his innocence, saying, “I feel we have had a reasonable number of people come forward with credible stories to say I did not commit these murders.”
According to the paper, four witnesses now claim a southern Oklahoma-based drug operation was behind the deaths. Prior to his arrest for the killings, Bower had no criminal record. According to prosecutors, Bower fatally shot four men to death at an airplane hangar in 1983 in order to steal a plane. He originally lied to investigators about being at the scene of the crime, and then admitted having visited the site, but claimed he hadn’t been involved in the murders. Parts of the plane were found at his home, a fact that played heavily in his conviction.
Bower is the eighth person this year to be executed by the state of Texas. He was killed by lethal injection, with the official time of death given as 6:36pm CT.
According to the BBC, Bower’s final words were, “Much has been said about this case. Much has been written about this case. Not all of it has been the truth. But the time for discerning truth is over and it's time to move on."