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On Death Row for 31 Years, Inmate Executed

A death row inmate who has proclaimed his innocence for three decades was executed Wednesday night in Huntsville. Lester Bower, 67, became the oldest death row inmate executed in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene.

Lester Bower, on death row in Texas for 31 years, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday night for the murder of four, incl...

*Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Bower's execution.

A death row inmate who has proclaimed his innocence for three decades was executed Wednesday night in Huntsville.

Lester Bower, 67, became the oldest death row inmate executed in Texas, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in his case. After thanking his lawyers and family, he died from a lethal injection shortly after 6:30 p.m.

Bower was sent to death row 31 years ago after he was convicted in the 1983 fatal shootings of four men, including two law enforcement officers. 

Bower met the four in an aircraft hanger on a Grayson County ranch 85 miles north of his home in Arlington to buy an ultralight aircraft that ranch owner Bob Tate was selling.

Bower, who was a chemical salesman, says he met the men, but when he left them, they were alive.

Parts of the ultralight were found at his home.

Prosecutors have said Bower is guilty of shooting the four men — Tate, 51; Grayson County Sheriff’s Deputy Philip Good, 29; Jerry Brown, 52, a Sherman interior designer; and Ronald Mayes, 39, a former Sherman police officer — during a $4,500 ultralight sale gone wrong. But Bower's attorneys have suggested that they were killed by drug dealers. In the years since his capital murder sentence, Bower's attorneys have found that there was drug activity in the area and that Tate had a history of selling cocaine.

In 1989, a woman identified by the courts only as "Pearl," and who had read about Bower's case, claimed her ex-boyfriend and his friends killed the four men during a drug deal. The identity of the woman who gave that affidavit has been sealed by the trial court. But Grayson County prosecutors have indicated that the woman had credibility problems.

Bower has faced six previous execution dates. Wednesday was his seventh.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Bower discussed how he was resigned that his life was about to end.

"The 31 years have not been fun,” Bower told the AP. “So if they come and decide to execute me, in a way, it’s almost a release. I believe in a better place and, I’m sorry, this isn’t a better place.”

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