Arlington inmate's execution halted for new evidence
Arlington inmate's execution halted for new evidence 04:26 PM CDT on Thursday, July 3, 2008 By JASON WHITELY / WFAA-TV
LIVINGSTON – At the Polunsky Unit, few inmates have lived on Texas’ death row longer than Lester Bower.
"Today is day 8,931," he said on a phone receiver from behind a glass wall in the prison.
In all, he has been incarcerated 24 years.
Bower, now 60, was convicted in a quadruple killing in Sherman back in 1983.
On Wednesday, three weeks away from his execution, he agreed to sit down with News 8.
Minutes before the interview began, Bower received news that answered his prayers. A judge signed an order halting his lethal injection while a court finally considers new evidence.
"Well, I'm happy about that,” he said. “Anytime you can get the date stopped, get the system stopped ... I've been waiting 24 years for a court, any court, anywhere just to hear the evidence."
While Bower admitted being in a Sherman hangar where four men were later found murdered, he said he was there buying an ultra light aircraft and left before anything happened.
Still, a jury convicted him on an entirely circumstantial case. No physical evidence ever tied Bower to the killings.
At the time, he was 36, coached soccer for his daughters and had never been in trouble before.
Several years after his trial, a woman came forward implicating four other men in the murder. It was a deadly drug deal, she claimed.
Despite having four other named men, Bower’s attorney said prosecutors, to this day, have never investigated them.
When Bower was convicted in 1984, Texas law said new evidence had to be presented within 30 days of the conviction in order to get a new trial. While that law has since been repealed, Bower has not been able to get a court to consider what he has found.
"You can't walk up to the [execution] day with the attitude 'They can't do this to me. They won't do this to me,' he said. "I've been here for over 400 executions. I know they can."
The court will now decide whether to test cigarette butts found at the scene for DNA analysis. DNA tests on strands of hair that were also found at the scene revealed it came from neither the victims nor Bower.
After 24 years, the clock has stopped and delayed death while a court considers what he has claimed all along, his innocence.