HUNTSVILLE — Lester Leroy Bower, 67, died by lethal injection Wednesday evening. He was pronounced dead at 6:36 p.m.

HUNTSVILLE — Lester Leroy Bower, 67, died by lethal injection Wednesday evening. He was pronounced dead at 6:36 p.m.


Bower lay on a gurney in the execution chamber, a small room with sea foam green walls. His arms were outstretched to his sides, each strapped down. A white sheet covered him from his chest to his feet. Bower, wearing black-rimmed glasses, stared straight forward as witnesses were ushered into two rooms to Bower’s right. One room held Bower’s family and the other held family members of the four victims.


A prison official inside the chamber told Bower when his wife had entered the witness room and pointed to her. Bower turned his head to his wife and smiled.


At 6:16 p.m., the warden asked Bower if he had any final words. Bower stared straight ahead of him at a microphone mounted on the ceiling and delivered his last statement. As he did so, he spoke calmly, slowly and with conviction.


"Much has been said and much has been written about this case. Not all of it has been the truth. But the time is over to discern the truth, and now it is time to move on. I want to thank my attorneys for all that they have done. They have afforded me the last quarter of a century. I would like to thank my wife, my daughters, family and friends for unwavering support. And all of the letters and well wishes over the years. Now it is time to pass on. I have fought the good fight. I held the faith. I am not going to say goodbye, I will simply say until we meet again," Bower’s voice suddenly broke. "I love you very, very much.


"Thank you, Warden."


At 6:18 p.m., prison officials administered a lethal dose of pentobarbital to Bower. Bower closed his eyes and could be heard taking deep breaths. After several minutes, he made some grunting, snore-like sounds. His mouth opened, and he lay still.


The witnesses remained silent except for sounds of crying coming from Bower’s family’s viewing room. Every witness stood frozen, watching the scene from behind windows with turquoise-colored bars.


The warden stood at the back, right corner of the gurney throughout the entire process. A chaplain stood at the other end of the gurney, holding Bower’s left ankle with one hand and a small Bible in the other.


After 18 minutes, a prison official removed Bower’s glasses. A doctor dressed in a suit and tie stepped forward. Using a stethoscope, he checked Bower for vital signs with his back to the witness rooms. At 6:36 p.m., a prison official announced that Bower was dead. The doctor pulled the white sheet to cover Bower’s head.


Mr. Bower was convicted of the 1983 quadruple homicide of Ronald Mayes, Jerry Brown, Philip Good and Bob Tate. The four men were killed in 1983 at an airport hangar near Sherman. Mr. Bower maintained that he was innocent of the murders.


After the execution, Marlene Bushard spoke to the press on behalf of the families of the victims. Bushard was victim Philip Good’s wife.


"I think justice has been served. I think Bower said the right thing when he said, ‘not all has been the truth,’ because there has been a lot that has been wrong. The press has gotten a lot of it wrong," Bushard said. "I know deep in my heart that justice has been served. He is the right person to have been convicted. We’ve stuck through this thick and thin. We’ve stayed together, because we know it’s the right thing to do. It’s just good to close this section of our lives and move on."


Mr. Brown’s widow, Robbie Dutton, who now resides in Whitesboro, said on Tuesday, that she did not plan to travel to Huntsville to witness the execution.


"(The execution) is way past due. I don’t think we can ever get closure, but this is as close as we can get," Dutton said, referring to her and her children. "We love him (Jerry Brown) and we wish he was here."


Mr. Bower execution occurs at a time when the death penalty is a controversial topic among the American public, state legislatures, and, indeed, the world. Lethal injection drugs have grown increasingly difficult for states to obtain. In March of this year, the Texas Department of Corrections faced a shortage of pentobarbital, the TDC’s lethal injection drug of choice. TDC authorities were able to obtain another batch of the drug later in the month from an unnamed pharmacy.


Other states have not had the same success procuring their lethal injection drugs. Faced with a shortage of drugs in April of last year, Oklahoma used an untested mixture of midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride for the execution of offender Clayton Lockett. The execution was infamously botched, as Lockett writhed and convulsed on the gurney before officials halted his execution. He died on the way to the hospital.


Since then, several state legislatures have made changes to their death penalty policies. In March, Utah signed a law re-introducing the firing squad as an execution method, should the state not be able to procure lethal injection drugs. In April, the state of Oklahoma signed into law the method of nitrogen gas as an alternative to lethal injection. On May 27, Nebraska became the 19th state in the country to end the practice of capital punishment.


Despite the recent controversy surrounding the death penalty, and despite seven previous stays of execution, on Wednesday Mr. Bower became the oldest person to be executed in the state of Texas.


Mr. Bower’s case began over 30 years ago.


On Oct. 8, 1983, Bobbie Tate grew concerned when her husband, Bob, did not return home from an airplane hangar north of Sherman when he said he would. Mr. Tate had told her that he was going meet up with friends at an airplane hangar to sell an ultralight aircraft to a man from Dallas.


Mrs. Tate and her son drove out to the hangar, located on Baker Road north of U.S. Highway 82. They found a murder scene. Mr. Tate had been shot dead, as well as Grayson County Sheriff’s Deputy Philip Good, former Sherman Police Officer Ronald Mayes and paint contractor Jerry "Mac" Brown. Someone had shot all four men execution-style with .22-caliber bullets and left their bodies in the hangar. Three of the bodies had been covered by a carpet in the middle of the hangar. Mr. Mayes’s body was lying in a pool of blood near the hangar’s door.


Sherman Democrat reports from the era note that authorities sought the "mystery aircraft buyer" for months. A breakthrough came when authorities examined phone records and found that Mr. Good had placed calls to and received calls from Lester Bower. At that time, Mr. Bower was a 35-year-old chemical salesman living in Arlington. He had a family and no prior criminal record. When questioned by law enforcement, Mr. Bower said that he had talked to Mr. Good over the phone, but said that he did not go through with the purchase or travel to the hangar.


When authorities found parts of the aircraft in Mr. Bower’s garage, including an aircraft wheel with the name "Tate" etched in it, Mr. Bower admitted that he had traveled to the hangar. He said that he had met Mr. Tate, Mr. Good and Mr. Brown, but said that he bought the aircraft and then left. Whatever incident occurred must have happened after Mr. Bower’s departure, he said. Furthermore, Mr. Bower said that he never saw Mr. Mayes.


Police arrested Mr. Bower in January of 1984 and charged him with four counts of capital murder.


The State mounted evidence against him. Mr. Bower’s wife had been against him buying an aircraft, fearing that the hobby was too dangerous. On the day of the supposed purchase, Mr. Bower had told his wife that he would be out bow hunting. He then hid the aircraft in their garage. Mr. Bower’s admitted lies to both authorities and his wife did not help his credibility.


In 2008, Mr. Bower told The Associated Press, "I lied to the FBI about my involvement. … I wish it hadn’t happened."


In the same article, Grayson County Prosecutor Karla Hackett said, "If you haven’t done anything wrong, there’s absolutely no reason to lie to the police — ever."


Linking Mr. Bower to the scene was what prosecutors called a rare kind of ammunition: Fiocchi .22-caliber bullets. Law enforcement found these bullets at the hangar, and also found that Mr. Bower had purchased bullets of this type in the past.


Among evidence never recovered was the murder weapon and the $3,000 cash that Mr. Bower said he gave Mr. Tate.


After a high-profile trial in 1984, a Grayson County jury found Mr. Bower guilty of capital murder in the deaths of the four men. Mr. Bower had been on death row ever since and always maintained his innocence.


In 1989, a woman came forward to Mr. Bower’s attorneys saying that her ex-boyfriend and three of his associates had carried out the killings. The woman, who prefers to go by the pseudonym "Pearl," said that the shootings were the result of a "dope deal that went bad," according to a 2008 Fort Worth Star-Telegram article.


Mr. Bower’s attorneys have cited Pearl’s story among their arguments for appeal, which also include inadequate defense attorneys in Mr. Bower’s first trial and DNA evidence that may have helped Mr. Bower’s case.


Grayson County prosecutors have said that Pearl has credibility issues, that there is no evidence that drugs were involved with the murders and that they have enough evidence that places Mr. Bower as the killer.


Over the years, Mr. Bower received eight execution dates and seven stays. He said in an interview with The Guardian last week, "If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go."