[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----FLA., ALA., TENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Oct 3 10:28:59 CDT 2005
Moms Steel Each Other Through Trials
The 3 mothers try to stay in touch through telephone calls every few
Occasionally, they grab lunch together when they're in the same part of
Often, however, it's just two of them for lunch. It's rare that all three
show up at the same place at the same time.
Except for court.
The 3 never miss court.
"Nothing about the case subsides with us," said Kathleen "Kay" Reeves.
"It's as though it is imprinted on your mind, like a child's mind at
Reeves, 67, Natalie Holley, 80, and Donna Witmer, 56, have lost daughters
to violent deaths.
The suspect in all 3 deaths is the same man: Oscar Ray Bolin.
In July 1991, Bolin was convicted in the death of Holley's daughter. 3
months later, he was convicted in the slaying of Witmer's daughter. In
1992, he was convicted in the killing of Reeves' daughter.
The 3 mothers sat through the 3 trials, then through 3 sentencing hearings
where Bolin received the death penalty.
In 1994, they comforted each other when all 3 convictions were overturned.
They sat through 3 more trials, then 3 more reversals on appeal.
In 2001, Bolin was again convicted and sentenced to death for the murder
of Reeves' daughter. Last year, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously
upheld that conviction and sentence.
The 3 were overjoyed.
Today, lawyers will select a new jury as prosecutors try, once again, to
convict Bolin in the death of Holley's daughter. Immediately after that
trial, another trial will begin, seeking to convict Bolin in the death of
Reeves, fulfilling a pledge she made years ago, will sit next to Holley
and Witmer throughout both trials -- and throughout any future hearings,
should they be necessary.
"You just fortify yourself with the fact that this is another nail in the
coffin," she said. "His coffin."
The mothers will lean on each other, Reeves said, until Bolin is executed.
In January 1986, Natalie "Blanche" Holley, 25, was abducted after she left
the north Tampa Church's Chicken where she worked. Her stabbed body was
found the next day in a Lutz orange grove.
Ten months later, Witmer's daughter disappeared from a shopping center
parking lot in Carrollwood. The body of Stephanie Anne Collins, 17, was
found on Dec. 5, 1986, with blunt injuries to her head.
On the same day authorities found Collins' body, they recovered the body
of Reeves' daughter, Teri Lynn Matthews, beside railroad tracks in Pasco
The previous night, Matthews, 26, was abducted from the Land O' Lakes post
office. She had been beaten, raped and stabbed, authorities said.
The three mothers would wait four years for an arrest.
The case broke when Bolin's wife came forward, saying she was with him
when he dumped Collins' body.
At the time of Bolin's arrest, he was serving a 75-year prison sentence in
Ohio for the abduction and rape of a truck-stop waitress.
After Bolin's murder convictions, the Florida Supreme Court granted new
trials citing improper testimony from his wife, too much pretrial
publicity and jury selection issues.
In his most recent appeal, for his Pasco County conviction in Matthews'
death, the high court unanimously rejected defense arguments that some
jurors were improperly excused from duty.
Although this week's retrials will take place in Hillsborough County, the
prosecutor, Michael Halkitis, is an assistant state attorney from Pasco
County. Local prosecutors recused themselves because Hillsborough County
State Attorney Mark Ober has previously represented Bolin.
Back To Court
Over the years, as newspapers and television news stations have reported
on Bolin's many trials and appeals, he also has made headlines for an
In 1996, via a telephone ceremony, Oscar Ray Bolin married Rosalie
Martinez, now Rosalie Bolin, worked for the Hillsborough County Public
Defender's Office as a death penalty mitigation expert.
Long before the marriage, rumors of the romance abounded in courthouse and
The public defender's office removed Rosalie Bolin from Oscar Ray Bolin's
case because she was spending too much time on it, at the expense of other
cases. She also was banned from the Hillsborough County Jail after
detention deputies saw her caressing Bolin's neck and Bolin was found with
a love note from her, prosecutors have said.
Now, Rosalie Bolin works as a private investigator, specializing in death
Through her husband's lawyer, she declined to comment until after the
In previous interviews, she has said she will not give up fighting for her
As prosecutors and defense attorneys have prepared for trial, Natalie
Holley has braced herself for another stress-filled week.
"There's no way I can prepare for it," she said on Thursday. "I just have
to grit my teeth and keep a straight face."
She said she always worries at the beginning of a trial, but she recently
spoke to Witmer and Reeves on the phone. They talked about the pending
trial, the past appeals, their other children.
"They are providing strength for me," Holley said. "I didn't know either
of them at my daughter's trial, the 1st one. That's where we met, and
we've been together ever since."
(source: Tampa Tribune)
Trial hits new snags with jury----2nd juror accused of misconduct
Convicted murderer Jason Tucker will learn this morning whether he will be
granted a new trial based on allegations of juror misconduct.
But even if Judge Lisa Davidson rules against the motion for a new trial,
there may be other jury conduct issues to consider before the penalty
phase can begin. Late Friday afternoon, defense attorneys amended their
motion for a new trial after discovering their firm represented another
juror's father in a felony drug case last year.
The juror, Stephanie McKenzie, apparently did not disclose this
information during pre-trial questioning even when, on Aug. 22, jurors
were asked if they knew anyone who had been accused of a crime.
"The juror knew her father was charged with a crime," defense attorney
Kepler Funk said.
Tucker was convicted Sept. 13 of first-degree premeditated murder and
sexual battery for the 1993 rape and murder of 50-year-old Joan Dunbar in
Indian Harbour Beach. He faces the death penalty. But the case has been
plagued with jury problems and allegations of misconduct.
A few days after the verdict, defense attorneys filed a motion for a new
trial based on a deposition given by the friend of juror Corrina
Washington, who said the juror discussed the case with her and then
changed her verdict to end the trial quickly. Later, it was discovered
that Washington had been cited for a criminal traffic infraction shortly
before the jury was chosen. That's what prompted the defense to amend its
motion for a new trial.
In the newest allegation, the juror's mother, Sherye McKenzie, signed an
affidavit Friday, stating that her daughter was aware of the charges
levied against her father. Stuart Alan McKenzie was charged with
possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence.
"This is a concealment issue again," defense attorney Keith Szachacz said.
"We would have asked who represented him if the juror had told us."
Assistant State Attorney Bill Respess, who prosecuted the case, could not
be reached for comment.
The penalty phase of the trial has been scheduled to start Wednesday.
(source: Florida Today)
2nd defendant in cop killings goes on trial
A 2nd defendant charged in the killings of 3 Birmingham police officers
goes on trial today.
Attorneys will begin selecting jurors to hear the capital murder case
against 28-year-old Nathaniel Woods of Birmingham.
The officers -- Carlos Owens, Harley Chisolm and Robert Bennett -- were
gunned down when they tried to serve a misdemeanor warrant on Woods last
June at an Ensley home where he and co-defendant, 25-year-old, Kerry
Spencer sold drugs.
A jury in June found Spencer guilty of three counts of capital murder and
attempted murder of a police officer. Jurors recommended that he serve
life in prison without parole, but a judge instead sentenced Spencer to
die by lethal injection.
The trial before Circuit Judge Tommy Nail is expected to last up to 2
weeks. Jurors will be sequestered.
(source: Associated Press)
District attorney general seeks death penalty in Jordan case
Sumner County District Attorney General Ray Whitley is seeking the death
penalty against Eddie Lee Murphy, Sr., the man accused of killing former
long-time Gallatin educator Dorothy Jordan last year.
Gallatin Mayor Don Wright, who knew the slain Jordan for 30 years, says
the district attorney has made a good call.
"Concerning the death penalty, I can only hope the D.A. can get it done
quickly," Wright said. "She was such a wonderful lady, involved in
anything and everything and helped so many people."
"She did not deserve to be murdered."
According to court records, the district attorney has filed his intent in
Sumner County Criminal Court to seek the ultimate punishment for
"In this particular case, we have examined the facts and talked to
witnesses, and we feel that asking for the death penalty is appropriate,"
While Whitley stands by his decision, he says it was a difficult one to
"It's a decision that comes very hard, but I've put a lot of thought and
soul searching into and Im satisfied with it," Whitley said.
Murphy, who lived in a rental property owned by Jordan at 567 Small
Street, Gallatin, was arrested Wednesday, June 9, 2004 and charged with
the first-degree murder of the retired teacher.
Jordan, 77, was found by a piano student in her 160 N. Blythe Street home
the day before with her throat cut, according to court records.
Court records show that Murphy told police he had performed maintenance
work on some of Jordans rental properties.
Gallatin Police received numerous tips that helped lead them to Murphy. At
the time of Murphy's arrest, Gallatin Police Chief John Tisdale said he
was "really amazed at the cooperation we received from the community."
According to court records, Gallatin Police were able to trace Murphy to
his aunts home in Nashville. Murphy has remained behind bars without bond
since his arrest and currently waits at the Northwest Correctional
Facility in Tiptonville for his April 17, 2006 trial date.
Jordans murder shocked Gallatin. She was known by many in the community,
having been a teacher at Gallatins first African-American high school,
Union High, and later at Gallatin and Beech High schools.
Whitley submitted a notice to seek "enhanced punishment" due to previous
felonies Murphy had been convicted of beginning in 1991, calling him a
multiple and persistent career offender, according to the court record.
According to court records, Murphy was convicted in the past of the
- burglary, 2 counts, Nov. 14, 1991.
- sale of cocaine, March 9, 1995.
- robbery, June 22, 2000.
- theft over $1,000, June 16, 2003.
(source: The News Examiner)
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