Texas executed Lester Bower Jr. Wednesday for a quadruple murder he maintained he didn't commit, making him the oldest prisoner executed in the most active death penalty state since the punishment was reinstated in 1982.
The execution of the 67-year-old man, who was convicted of killing four men more than three decades ago, took place at 6:36 p.m., after the U.S. Supreme Court had denied a last-day appeal to halt the lethal injection.
He was convicted of October 1983 fatal shootings of four men at an airplane hangar on a ranch near Sherman, about 60 miles north of Dallas. Prosecutors say he killed the four after stealing an airplane that he had been trying to buy from one of his victims.
"I do have remorse," Bower, who has maintained his innocence, told The Associated Press two weeks ago from death row. "I'm remorseful for putting my family and my wife and my friends through this.
"If this is going to bring some closure to them (the victim's family), then good. But
if they think by this they're executing the person that killed their loved one, then that's going to come up a little bit short
if they think by this they're executing the person that killed their loved one, then that's going to come up a little bit short."
Bower, who thanked his lawyers and family before he died, was the eighth inmate given a lethal dose of pentobarbital this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state.
His attorneys told the high court that jurors didn't have the opportunity in their punishment deliberations to fully consider that Bower had no previous criminal record. Attorneys also contended that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals used an incorrect legal standard when it denied an appeal for Bower a decade ago.
Stephen Hoffman, an assistant Texas attorney general, responded that 30 years of litigation was enough and justice already had been delayed "for the four families of the men that Bower slaughtered in cold blood."