TAMPA — When a jury considers today whether Oscar Ray Bolin Jr. killed 25-year-old Natalie Blanche Holley in 1986, Bolin stands to gain or lose almost nothing.
Win or lose, he returns to death row.
Bolin already has death sentences for the 1986 first-degree murders of Teri Lynn Matthews, 26, and Stephanie Collins, 17.
He has been convicted three times and twice sentenced to death for the murder of Holley — but those sentences were lost on appeal. In this retrial, he is charged with second-degree murder.
If convicted of that charge, Bolin faces a life sentence on top of his two death sentences.
During his retrial this week, prosecutors presented taped 1992 testimony by his dead ex-wife, Cheryl Jo Coby, that he woke her at 2 a.m. Jan. 25, 1986, with blood on his sneakers and with a woman's purse. She had testified that she went with Bolin that night to wipe down Holley's car. She died in 1992 of diabetes complications after testifying.
Jurors also heard from Bolin's cousin, who said Bolin confessed the murder to him during a car ride. And jurors were told about what was intended to be a suicide note that Bolin wrote in jail. In it, he said his ex-wife told him how to dump Holley's body.
Against that, defense attorneys presented Robert Anton, briefly a jail cell mate of Bolin's who is now serving a 30-year sentence for armed robbery and who told jurors that he'd been convicted of 15 felonies.
Anton testified that he had, coincidentally, known Holley. He said that sometime before her murder, he had seen her car at a house nearby where his brother lived. Anton said he was shooed away from the property by his now-deceased brother and a man named Eddie.
He said Eddie was an "off-the-chain" character who enjoyed slaughtering pigs and cattle and would cut himself after using drugs.
Anton said Eddie had blood on his clothes. He also said Eddie wore the same type of sneaker worn by Bolin, a $9 Traxx shoe from Kmart. But Anton said he left the property without seeing Holley.
After also presenting testimony that no fingerprints of Bolin's were ever found and that Bolin's ex-wife was given a "substantial" reward from Crime Stoppers — exact amount unknown — the defense rested.
Jurors will hear closing arguments this morning before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Battles, then begin deliberations.
News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.