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Lester Leroy BOWER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Theft of an ultralight aircraft
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: October 8, 1983
Date of arrest: January 19, 1984
Date of birth: November 20, 1947
Victims profile: Bob G. Tate, 51 (building contractor); Ronald Mayes, 39 (former police officer); Philip Good, 29 (sheriff deputy); and Jerry Mac Brown, 52 (interior designer)
Method of murder: Shooting
LocationGrayson County, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 10, 1984
 
 
 
 
 

United States Court of Appeals
For the Fifth Circuit

 
opinion 03-40980
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Texas death row inmate hopes DNA test will clear him

State district judge stops scheduled July 22 execution to consider evidence not available in 1984.

By Michael Graczyk - Associated Press

The Statesman

Sunday, July 06, 2008

SHERMAN Three months after four people were found shot to death in an airplane hangar on the B&B Ranch north of Dallas, chemical salesman Lester Leroy Bower Jr. was charged with capital murder.

Four months later, a Grayson County jury deliberated two hours before convicting him. It took them only another two hours the next day to decide he should die for the crime.

Bower's fingerprints were not found at the scene. No witnesses saw him there. No murder weapon was recovered. Bower didn't confessed. And DNA testing wasn't available in 1984.

Now a state district judge has stopped a scheduled July 22 execution for Bower and has agreed to consider his request that evidence in the case be examined to see whether DNA testing could back up his quarter-century-long claims of innocence.

Prosecutors, who say the testing is a delaying tactic, said the salesman with a long marriage, two daughters and no record of criminal activity or mental-health problems just snapped. It happens, they said.

Bower's behavior had made investigators suspicious, officials say. He had lied to his wife, and authorities, about his efforts to buy an ultralight plane. He sold firearms on the side, including the kind that carried the ammunition used to kill the men.

Yet if mass murderers fit a profile, Bower stands out: Texas A&M University graduate, good job, family man, father of two daughters, soccer dad, stable marriage, no mental disabilities, no history of childhood abuse, no previous criminal record.

"Does this really sound like something I would do?" Bower, now 60, said recently from Texas death row.

Yes, it does, prosecutors say.

"There is no question in my mind that Bower is guilty," said Ronald Sievert, a federal prosecutor named as a special prosecutor to assist in Bower's trial.

Sievert is now a professor of national security law at the University of Texas Law School and the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M. He and Grayson County District Attorney Stephen Davidchik, who has since died, built a circumstantial case surrounding Bower's purchase from Grayson sheriff's Deputy Philip Good, 29, of an ultralight airplane stored at the hangar owned by building contractor Bob Tate, 51.

Tate, Good, Jerry Brown, 52, a Sherman interior designer, and Ronald Mayes, 39, a former Sherman police officer, were all killed at the hangar.

"I lied to the FBI about my involvement" in the purchase of the plane, Bower said. "I wish it hadn't happened."

"If you haven't done anything wrong, there's absolutely no reason to lie to the police ever," said Karla Hackett, an assistant Grayson County district attorney handling the appeals on the case.

Bower said Brown was with Good that Saturday afternoon. They all waited about 15 minutes for Tate to show up with a key to the hangar.

"We got along well," Bower recalled, saying Tate welcomed him to return to use the facilities.

He never saw Mayes, Bower said.

Investigators seized on Bower when Good's phone records showed three calls from Bower charged on his company telephone credit card. Tate had told his wife that he and Good were going to meet someone they believed wanted to buy their plane.

A search of Bower's home turned up parts of Tate's ultralight aircraft missing from the hangar.

Questions about his conviction were raised in 1989 when a woman reading a newspaper article about an appeal filed in Bower's case called one of Bower's attorneys to say her ex-boyfriend and three of his friends were responsible for the slayings, the result of a drug deal gone bad. She said she didn't know anyone had been convicted of the murders.

The identity of the woman, who signed a sworn affidavit, and the names of the four men she implicated for the slayings, identified in court filings as Rocky, Ches, Lynn and Bear, have been sealed by court order.

Hackett said the woman who called Bower's lawyers has her own credibility issues and the appeal, sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, should be rejected.

Bower's attorneys point to FBI reports that initially suggested the four slayings possibly were drug or gambling related.

Bower's lawyers also question whether he could have driven the 135 miles from the hangar to his house in less than two hours. His wife testified he was home by 6:30 p.m. The killings occurred between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

In their DNA request, to be reviewed July 17, Bower's lawyers want to see whether substances on items removed from the crime scene match DNA of any of the four men they claim are the real killers.

"I'm hoping somebody will take a look at it and say there seems to be enough to bring the verdict into question and there is a likelihood this is a miscarriage of justice," Bower said. "That's probably the best I can hope for."

 
 

Texan Convicted of Killing 4 In Hangar Sentenced to Die

The New York Times

April 29, 1984

A chemical salesman was sentenced to death today for the murders of four people in a rural airplane hanger last October.

The salesman, Lester Leroy Bower Jr., 36 years old, of Arlington, was convicted Friday.

The jury heard closing statements this morning and deliberated one hour and 10 minutes before recommending death.

State District Judge R. C. Vaughan pronounced four separate sentences of death by injection. The case will be appealed automatically to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest court.

The authorities say the motive was the theft of an ultralight aircraft, valued at about $4,000, that one of the victims, Robert Tate, had advertised for sale. The other victims were Phillip Good, a Grayson County sheriff's deputy; Ronald Mayes, formerly a police officer in Sherman, and Jerry Mack Brown, a self-employed house remodeler.

 
 


Lester Leroy Bower in an undated photo provided by the Grayson County District Clerk's office, Wednesday, July 2, 2008, in Sherman, Texas. In 1984--three months after four bodies were found shot execution-style in an airplane hangar on the B&B Ranch north of Dallas--Bower, a chemical salesman, was charged with capital murder.
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

 

Lester Leroy Bower, 2009.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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