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Supreme Court Stays Next Texas Execution

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News
Huntsville facility in Texas.

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday put a stop to the upcoming execution of convicted killer Lester Bower.

Bower, 67, was scheduled to be executed in the Huntsville facility on Feb. 10, next Tuesday. He murdered four men at an airplane hangar outside of Dallas in 1983. He was one of the longest serving inmates on death row, having resided there for more than 30 years. The length of his stay may be one of the reasons that the court decided to halt the execution and consider the prisoner's three-part appeal.

Credit Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice
Lester Bower.

Attorneys for Bower – who still denies his involvement with the crime – claim that the length of stay, and the fact that the prisoner has faced execution six times, constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Two other arguments – one about the jury's not being able to hear evidence in favor of the Bower's good character, one about whether or not claims made by the prosecution about the rarity of the ammunition used in the crime were proven false – were included in the appeal.

The evidence in support of Bower's good character is what's known as mitigating circumstances, which weren't taken into account at the time of the inmate's trial, the AP reports. Today, juries in Texas would be allowed to consider those circumstances, and that could be another factor that led to Thursday's reprieve.

Bower was convicted of the murder of four men at a hangar where Bower had gone to purchase an airplane. He continues to claim that he bought the plane and left the men there alive. 

The Supreme Court has not commented yet on the case. Bower's appeal is technically still pending; the court will likely hear and discuss the full appeal when it reconvenes on Feb. 20.

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