Saturday, 19 July 2008

Judge delays ruling on DNA tests in 1983 slayings near Sherman

July 18


Judge delays ruling on DNA tests in 1983 slayings near Sherman

After a contentious 90-minute hearing, a state district judge on Thursday
delayed ruling on whether possible evidence in a 1983 quadruple slaying
should be submitted for further DNA analysis.

Lawyers for death row inmate Lester Leroy Bower Jr. argued that DNA tests could bolster Bower's claim that he did not kill Bob Tate, Philip Good, Jerry Mack Brown and Ronald Mayes, whose bodies were found in an airplane hangar just east of Sherman.

Bower, an Arlington chemical salesman and family man, was arrested 3
months after the bodies were found. Investigators found pieces of an
ultralight aircraft missing from the hangar in Bowers home. He was
convicted of capital murder in 1984.

On Thursday, a Grayson County prosecutor told Judge Jim Fallon that DNA tests would be academic because of the significant circumstantial evidence introduced against Bower in his trial.

Bowers execution had been set for July 22, but Fallon postponed it so he could consider the defense motion for testing. In recent court filings,
Bower's lawyers say 2 new witnesses have come forward to implicate 4 other men in the slayings. Bower's lawyers say that much of the witnesses' testimony has been corroborated by their own investigation.

If the DNA is determined to belong to another suspect, "don't you think
that would be important at trial?" Fallon asked prosecutor Karla Hackett.

The tests "might have made a difference if [Bower] didn't have the stolen
aircraft in his home and hadn't lied to the FBI over and over," Hackett

At the end of the 90-minute hearing in a crowded courtroom, Fallon allowed prosecutors and defense attorneys two more weeks to file motions on the issue.

Bower's wife, 2 adult daughters and several supporters sat on one side of the courtroom, across the aisle from relatives and friends of the victims.

"I'm sympathetic to the victims families for the need for closure," Fallon
said. "It's been dragging on one way or another for 24 years. It's

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