The Supreme Court has put on hold the execution of a Texas man who has spent 30 years on death row for a quadruple murder while it decides whether to hear his appeal. Lester Bower, 67, was scheduled for a lethal injection on Tuesday. He has long denied being the killer who shot four men at close range in an airplane hangar in 1983 so he could steal an ultralight aircraft.
The high court did not comment on its decision, and it’s unclear what part of Bower’s three-prong appeal might have caught the justices’ eye. The defense argued in its petition that the fact Bower has spent three decades on death row amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution. His lawyers also argued that the jury was not allowed to hear mitigating evidence of good character that might have resulted in a lesser punishment for the chemical salesman, a father of two. The petition also says that prosecution arguments that Bowers was one of the few people in Texas who possessed the rare ammunition used in the murders were later shown to be false.
A number of other executions across the country have been put on hold until the Supreme Court rules on the legality of one of the drugs used in four states for lethal injections. Texas is not affected by that case because it uses a different chemical.