Monday, 25 May 2015

Upcoming Execution - Lester Leroy Bower, Jr

Lester Leroy Bower, Jr
On June 3rd, 2015 the State of Texas will execute one of death row's longest serving residents,  Lester Leroy Bower, Jr. Bower is no stranger to execution dates, he has had a staggering seven dates stayed or postponed in the past. Racking up a near record of over thirty years as a death row inmate, Bower was convicted of four counts of capital murder. 

On October 8th, 1983 Lester Bower, Jr shot and killed four men, Ronald Mayes, Bob Tate, Jerry Mac Brown and Phillip Good, in an ultralight aircraft hanger outside of Sherman, Texas. Prosecutors said Bower arranged to meet one of the men under the pretence of purchasing a $4000 ultralight the man had advertised for sale. It was further alleged by prosecutors that Bower, who had planned to kill one person, had no choice but to kill the other three men too when they turned up unexpectedly at the hanger. The men's bodies were found by law enforcement on one of the victim's ranches. A subsequent search of Bower's home in Arlington unearthed pieces of an ultralight plane that had been taken from the hanger. 

Evidence used during Bower's trial.
There are many people who believe Leroy Lester Bower, Jr is an innocent man. Before being found guilty of the four execution-style murders Bower had no previous criminal record. He was a well-respected, well-liked salesman who people described as 'mild-mannered' and devoted to his wife and two daughters. The jury at Bower's trial took just two hours to convict him of the murders, the following day they took a further two hours to sentence him to death. This was despite the fact the evidence presented during trial was purely circumstantial. The murder weapon was never found, there were no witnesses or finger print evidence placing Bower at the scene and there was no signed confession. The evidence during trial concentrated on two purchases of fire arms that Bower made in 1982. The ammunition purchased, Fiocchi .22-caliber bullets, was the same as those used in the killings. Among the evidence was a sledgehammer belonging to Bower, which prosecutors alleged he used to smash up evidence of his involvement in the murders. Books, mainly on pistols, gun parts and silencers, were also seized from Bower and used as evidence against him.

Bower admitted to owning a pistol similar to the one used in the murders, however he insists he lost the weapon in 1982. Further evidence during trial suggested that Bower's lost gun could not have been the one used to murder the men because it had a specific kind of firing pin. The distinctive marks you would expect the firing pin to leave on bullet casings were not found. In 1989, a woman called one of Lester Bower's attorneys saying that her ex-boyfriend and three of his friends were the ones responsible for the murders. The killings were the result of a dope deal gone wrong. The witnesses identity and those of the people she implicated are in a court sealed document. This information was dismissed by the prosecution as being nothing more than an attempt to delay punishment on the behalf of the defence team.

Bower in 1983
Bower has received stays in the past to allow certain pieces of evidence to undergo DNA testing, which was not available in 1984. So far, the results have not returned anything to indicate Lester Bower is innocent of the crimes for which he is convicted. Bower appears to have exhausted all possible avenues for appeal and in the last couple of days, a Federal Court appeal filed on his behalf was denied by the 5th Circuit court of appeals. No doubt the families of the four men murdered are looking forward to some sort of closure after 30 years. However, many believe that if Bower's execution goes ahead on June 3rd, it will be a true miscarriage of justice. 

1 comment:

  1. This man was innocent. The cold hard truth is that law enforcement in the area were trafficking narcotics...and had the truth of the circumstances surrounding the quadruple homicide come to light, the extensive corruption involving Texas sheriff departments and other organizations would have unraveled Texas' beloved institutions.

    Les hired an attorney from a nearby town where the corrupt sheriff department was running drugs and THAT sheriff was also friends with the sheriff in Grayson county (where the murders took place), whose department was also trafficking narcotics. The man never stood a chance.