Robert Towery Executed By Lethal Injection In Florence--Murdered Paradise Valley Philanthropist in '91

Robert Towery, a 47-year-old Mesa man who spent the last two decades of his life on death, was executed late this morning at the state prison in Florence.

Towery's last-minute appeals didn't pass muster, and prison officials injected the inmate with the poisonous chemicals that killed him.

He was charged in the brutal 1991 killing of 69-year-old philanthropist Mark Jones, a Paradise Valley man known for providing dozens of University of Arizona students with scholarship funds.

Jones as we noted in a Valley Fever blog post yesterday, invited Towery--an acquaintance--and another man into his residence. The pair were there to rob Jones, and according to Towery's accomplice, Towery also had designs on killing him.

Jones died of manual strangulation with a plastic tie, and Towery's cohort, Randy Allen Barker, later told police (and a Maricopa County jury) that Towery had injected the victim with battery acid. Prosecutors never could definitively prove the latter, but they had more than enough evidence to win a conviction on first-degree murder and other charges.

In return for his testimony against Towery, prosecutors cut co-conspirator Barker a pretty sweet deal. Barker was released from prison in 2001 after serving about ten years.

As we wrote yesterday, Robert "Chewie" Towery, a violent criminal with a yen for meth, ad pulled himself together behind bars in recent years, and reconnected with family members, including his college-age son.

We corresponded with Towery in recent months, and he invited us to attend his execution, which he fully expected would occur as scheduled.

We declined, having no desire to watch the government stick a needle into a condemned man behind a glass retaining wall.

Our old colleague Mike Kiefer of the Arizona Republic reported that Towery's last meal consisted of a porterhouse steak, baked potato with sour cream, asparagus, mushrooms, milk, Pepsi and apple pie a la mode.

If we still have a death penalty in place at this late date, and it is supposed to be reserved for the worst of the worst, Robert Towery had it coming to him.

He may not have died as the worst person around, but the vile and violent acts he perpetrated upon Mr. Jones put him in that category when it counted--when he chose to murder.

But, just saying, locking Towery up, throwing away the key, and letting him exist in that netherworld known as the Arizona State Prison until he died would have been just fine with us.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin