U.S. Supreme Court halts Texas execution of convicted killer

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 05, 2015 11:09 AM

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday put on hold the execution by Texas of convicted murderer Lester Bower as it considers whether to hear his full appeal including the assertion that his three decades on death row amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Bower, 67, was sentenced to death for murdering four men in 1983 in an aircraft hangar near Sherman, Texas. Prosecutors said he had intended to steal an ultralight plane.

Bower was scheduled to be executed on Feb. 10. He asked for a delay so the Supreme Court could consider his appeal, which is pending at the court. The next time the nine justices are scheduled to meet to discuss new cases to take up is Feb. 20.

Among the legal questions Bower has raised is whether the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment has been violated by his more than 30-year stay on death row.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Will Dunham)