Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Serial killer Oscar Ray Bolin faces fourth trial in Natalie Holley's slaying

TAMPA — Seventy members of a jury pool were asked Monday if they had ever heard of the diminutive gray-haired man looking genially at them from the defense table.

Only 13 of the prospective jurors recognized Oscar Ray Bolin Jr., 50, the convicted serial killer and rapist who has haunted the Hillsborough County Courthouse for two decades.

The mother of 25-year-old Natalie Blanche Holley said she isn't surprised few remember how her daughter was fatally stabbed eight times in 1986 or that Bolin is on death row for killing two other young women.

"It was a long time ago," said the victim's mother, also named Natalie, "and this is Florida."

Three previous convictions and two death sentences for Holley's murder did not survive appeals. Bolin has been brought back from death row for a fourth attempt at a Holley conviction that sticks. It's no longer a death penalty case. The charge is second-degree murder.

It's not unusual to prosecute death row inmates for other crimes that don't carry the death penalty. Reasons include the unpredictable outcome of many death penalty cases, the heinous nature of the offenses and the desire for justice on behalf of the victims' families.

Although Bolin has developed diabetes on death row, he looked fit and groomed Monday. He has physically outlasted Holley's mother, who sat through his previous trials, as did mothers of Bolin's other two victims. Holley's mother is now ailing and uses a wheelchair, unable to attend trial No. 4.

She had always hoped for the death penalty.

In the back of the courtroom, Bolin's wife, Rosalie, who left her prominent lawyer-husband to marry Bolin after working on his rape and murder cases, says she also waits for justice. She has doubts she ever should have married him but still believes he never hurt anyone.

Rosalie met Bolin while working on his case as a mitigation specialist for the public defender's office. The mother of four divorced to marry the convicted killer, her in a lace wedding dress, him on speaker phone behind bars saying "I do" on national TV. That was 17 years ago.

She helped defend him through the trials for the murder of Holley. She also helped defend him through convictions for the 1986 murder of Teri Lynn Matthews, 26, and convictions for the 1986 murder of 17-year-old Stephanie Collins.

Monday, she helped scrutinize prospective jurors.

The marriage never accomplished what she had hoped, she said. It was meant to be a statement of "great personal sacrifice" that would bring attention to what she thought was a terrible injustice.

It was never about infatuation, never about an attraction. "People thought the wrong thing."

Her subsequent work as a death penalty opponent, as a respected mitigation specialist who was recruited by the Casey Anthony defense team, she said, all have been overshadowed by "that one personal decision."

She will always be Mrs. Oscar Ray Bolin. She wouldn't say she shouldn't have married him. But if she had a do-over, she said, "Let's just say I'd tweak it."

Bolin's current three defense attorneys are working pro bono. There's no estimate on what all the prosecutions have cost, but Rosalie Bolin says it has to be in the millions.

His first conviction for Holley's murder was in 1991. He got the death penalty. It was overturned. He was reconvicted in 1999, and he got the death penalty again. That was overturned, too. Then in 2005, a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder. He was given a life sentence. But an appellate court criticized the judge's jury instructions, putting Bolin back in court this week before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Battles. The trial is expected to be finished by the end of the week.

Rosalie Bolin said she can't envision her husband ever being executed. She can envision him one day going free. So far, he has beaten the odds.

"It's not Oscar's fault he's here a fourth time."

Natalie Blanche Holley's mother said she no longer hopes for justice: "We haven't gotten it for 25 years."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or jbarry@tampabay.com.

Serial killer Oscar Ray Bolin faces fourth trial in Natalie Holley's slaying 04/16/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 16, 2012 10:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida Bar revokes former state representative’s law license

    Blogs

    The Florida Bar revoked former state representative Larry Crow’s license in light of allegations that he misappropriated client funds and mishandled an estate case, according to court records.
    A petition filed in the Florida Bar case provides details of the disciplinary charges against Crow, who was elected …

    Larry Crow, a former Republican state representative from Palm Harbor
  2. Emergency crews responding to reports of explosions, deaths at Ariana Grande concert in England

    Public Safety

    Authorities in Manchester, England, say they are responding to an incident in which people were injured and killed during an Ariana Grande concert.

    Authorities in England are responding to a report of explosions and deaths during an Ariana Grande concert. She is shown here in a 2016 photo in Las Vegas. Reports are that the singer was not hurt. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)
  3. Tampa man driving ATV killed in Gibsonton crash on U.S. 41

    Public Safety

    GIBSONTON — A 24-year-old man driving an all-terrain vehicle died Monday afternoon in a crash on U.S. 41, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  4. Questions about Russia chase Trump during first Israel visit

    World

    JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump solemnly placed a note in the ancient stones of Jerusalem's Western Wall on Monday, sending a signal of solidarity to an ally he's pushing to work harder toward peace with the Palestinians. But his historic gesture- and his enthusiastic embrace of Israel's leader - were shadowed …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after making joint statements, Monday in Jerusalem. [AP photo]
  5. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]