May 22, 2015 / 5:20 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. court denies motion to halt execution of long-serving Texas inmate

Death row inmate Lester Bower is seen in an undated picture released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville, Texas. REUTERS/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout via Reuters

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A federal appeals court has denied an application to halt the June execution of Lester Bower, one of the longest-serving inmates on death row in Texas, for killing four men at an airport hangar in 1983.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday denied a petition from Bower’s lawyers, who said his planned execution on June 3 should be halted on grounds that his previous sentencing did not match U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

Bower, 67, who has been imprisoned for more than 30 years, is set to be executed by injection at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville.

His lawyers have tried for more than two decades to have his conviction thrown out, saying he was found guilty due to faulty witness testimony.

Bower has denied being at the hangar where the murders took place but authorities said aircraft parts found in his home and other evidence implicated him in the crimes.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal filed by lawyers for Bower, who argued that three decades on death row amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

According to Bower’s court filings, he has faced imminent execution on six occasions during his time in prison.

Bower was convicted of fatally shooting building contractor Bob Tate, former police officer Ronald Mayes, sheriff’s deputy Philip Good and interior designer Jerry Brown, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

Bower killed Tate to steal an ultralight airplane Tate was selling and then killed the other three when they unexpectedly showed up at the hangar, it said.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott

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