STARKE — A man found guilty of murdering three women nearly 30 years ago is scheduled for execution Thursday night.
Barring a last-minute reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court, 53-year-old Oscar Ray Bolin — who was found guilty 10 times by 10 juries for three different murders — will be executed at 6 p.m. in Florida State Prison.
Gov. Rick Scott signed Bolin’s death warrant in October. The warrant is for the 1986 slaying of Teri Lynn Matthews. The 26-year-old Matthews was abducted from a post office in Pasco County, just north of Tampa.
Bolin was also sentenced to death for the killing of 17-year-old Stephanie Collins. A jury also gave him the death penalty for killing 25-year-old Natalie Holley, but that verdict was thrown out because of legal errors. Another jury eventually found him guilty of second-degree murder in that case. All three killings happened in 1986, at different times.
Each of Bolin’s cases ended in new trials. Every one of the verdicts delivered by juries in three separate trials was reversed at least twice by appeals courts, although ultimately he was convicted again in each case.
Kathleen Reeves, the mother of Matthews, told The Associated Press it doesn’t matter that Bolin is not awaiting execution in all three cases “because he only dies once.”
“He dies for all of our girls.”
The mothers of the three victims attended many of the trials together. Reeves and Collins’ family planned to attend the execution. Holley’s mother died in 2012.
The cases went unsolved until someone called an anonymous tip line in 1990, when Bolin was already serving a 22- to 75-year prison sentence in Ohio for kidnapping and raping a 20-year-old waitress outside Toledo in 1987.
Authorities later discovered it was the new husband of Bolin’s ex-wife who called in the tip; the ex-wife said Bolin had told her about the killings in 1986.
Bolin’s trials received widespread publicity in the Tampa Bay area — but not just because of the seemingly endless legal processes or the brutal nature of the killings.
While on trial, Bolin and a woman on his defense team fell in love. Rosalie Martinez had been a paralegal at the Hillsborough Public Defender’s office who was married to a prominent Tampa attorney. Martinez divorced him and married Bolin, on live TV, in 1996 — 10 years after the slayings. Rosalie Bolin says her husband is innocent in Matthews’ killing, and she has become one of the state’s most outspoken death penalty opponents.
On Wednesday, Bolin told the Fox 13 television station that he’s innocent. “I didn’t know ’em, never seen ’em, never met ’em,” he said of the three victims.
Bolin told the TV station that evidence used to convict him was both tampered with and planted.
“My conscience is clear,” he told the TV station. “I’m at peace with myself. It’s my release. My punishment’s over.
“I didn’t do it, you’re not going to believe me, fine,” he said, adding that “After 28 years of this, being in this box for 28 years, it’s a release. My punishment’s over. They can’t hurt me no more.”